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The Tarvin Woodland Trust and the Tarporley Twinning Association

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 19:13 24 October 2015

A memorial stone to Jim Grogan at Tarvin Community Woodland

A memorial stone to Jim Grogan at Tarvin Community Woodland

Archant

The seeds of community spirit have been growing a while in Tarvin and Tarporley. Emma Mayoh meets the locals cultivating these pretty villages

Trustees and volunteers  at Tarvin Community WoodlandTrustees and volunteers at Tarvin Community Woodland

There is a Greek proverb, that a civilisation flourishes when people plant trees under which they will never sit. It is a motto that members of the Tarvin Woodland Trust live by. The group devote much of their time tending a beautiful woodland they created in a pocket of land between the busy A51 and its residential streets.

Creating this pretty 13 acre space was the brainchild of former parish councillor, the late Jim Grogan. Banks of earth and landscaping have been put in place to dull noise by the Tarvin bypass but the fields between the road and the houses, other than being used by dog walkers, were largely abandoned. In 1993 Jim began his campaign to create this wonderful woodland.

Since then proper pathways and drainage have been put in on wet sections. Areas have been cleared, trees planted and a wildflower meadow established. There’s a community orchard too, as well as a commemorative stone dedicated to Jim. The space has been transformed into a tranquil haven and the efforts of the group have earned a Green Flag award on many occasions.

Schoolchildren from Tarvin Primary enjoy using the space to its best effect. Next month they will hold an apple pressing day and there are plans to extend the woodland.

Sue Hardacre at Tarvin Community CentreSue Hardacre at Tarvin Community Centre

Charles Bradley, secretary, said: ‘Getting young people involved with the woodland is so important. They will look after it when we’re not able to. We’re really happy the school make such good use of it. But so many people enjoy the woodland.

‘We like to think that Jim would love what we are doing. We constantly ask ourselves whether he would be happy, when we’re doing something new. We have named the route Grogan’s Walk which is special to us. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved but none of it would have happened without Jim’s determination.’

Another group similarly committed to making their village shine are the people at Tarvin Community Centre. Everything from exercise classes, toddler groups and tai chi are held here. It is also the base of the village library. But what makes this centre a little different is its commitment to theatre and the arts. They have presented top plays and musicals, including shows from renowned theatres including the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Next month Beryl, a play written by actress Maxine Peake, that tells the story of woman cyclist Beryl Burton, will be staged.

For Sue Hardacre, committee member responsible for events, it is what sets them apart.

She said: ‘We are the secular heart of the village and offer a range of activities for many ages and interests. However, proud as we are of these, I don’t think they make us particularly special. But what does is our involvement in the arts. We are promoters with Cheshire Rural Touring Arts and offer professional theatre to a rural audience. We are the home of Ashton Hayes Theatre Group and have concerts on an occasional basis.’

The community centre was once under risk of closure but Alan Wilkinson, chairman, took on the task of reinvigorating it and put out a call to locals to form a committee. The village answered and now the centre is a thriving part of life in Tarvin and is applying for funds to help redevelop rooms currently underused.

He said: ‘It was a big task to take on but I didn’t want it to just die. It was important to keep the centre going. We are really busy and our calendar gets booked out all of the time.’

A few miles down the road is Tarporley, a beautiful, quaint village that attracts visitors in droves. It has a a reputation as a place for retail therapy with its charming boutiques and foodies love the old coaching inns, lovely delis, cafes, butchers and excellent restaurants.

Tarporley Twinning Association members,  Rachael Overy,  Eilidh and Caitlin Bodfish,  Michael Hilton,  Ann Bodfish,  Margaret Corlett and Rachael Carr with a Gordon Wilkinson watercolour of the villageTarporley Twinning Association members, Rachael Overy, Eilidh and Caitlin Bodfish, Michael Hilton, Ann Bodfish, Margaret Corlett and Rachael Carr with a Gordon Wilkinson watercolour of the village

Like Tarvin, residents work hard to maintain its appeal. Many organisations keep locals entertained and there are also groups promoting it to outsiders.

Tarporley Twinning Association was set up over 30 years ago. Links with the French village, Bohars, began in 1982 and members of the association have been visiting each other annually since then. They stay with families in France and the favour is returned when visitors from the French community visit Tarporley.

Margaret Corlett said: ‘It is something all my family have enjoyed and we love visiting Bohars. My daughter is now studying French at university and the twinning has definitely made an impact on that.’ Sian Williamson, 17, said it has given her confidence as well as an opportunity to learn about another country.

She said: ‘I have met some great people but it has also been fascinating seeing other people’s cultures. I’ve been a few times now and it’s always good fun when people visit us here. They love it here.’

On the steps of The Swan Inn are Tarporley Amateur Dramatics Society members; Ben Blackford,  Sue Goldstone,  Denise Pritchard, Sue Roberts and Michael Hilton learning their lines with Rik BennettOn the steps of The Swan Inn are Tarporley Amateur Dramatics Society members; Ben Blackford, Sue Goldstone, Denise Pritchard, Sue Roberts and Michael Hilton learning their lines with Rik Bennett

Tarporley Amateur Dramatic Society has been running since 1920 and stage two shows each year. For 33-year-old Emma Barnes, vice chair, the society has been a big part of family life.

She said: ‘My mum, Sue, has been in the society over 30 years. When I was little my friends and I used to sit in the village hall while our parents rehearsed and there was a joke that we were drama orphans. But it left a good impression on me and I decided to stay a part of it.

‘We don’t take ourselves too seriously, it’s fun. I’m lucky to spend time with great people in the society and we just love putting shows on for people to enjoy. We also donate money to charity.’

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