What the locals really think of the Wirral
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 June 2016
There's always something going on in the Wirral, from groups of dedicated volunteers to pupils reaching for the stars. Rebekka O'Grady visits to find out more.
The several towns and villages that make up this peninsula are all different, making for an interesting couple of days out.
If it’s a visit to the seaside you are after, the 25 miles of the Wirral coast has it all.
Grab an ice cream at Parkgate or take a wander over to Hilbre Island and try to spot an Atlantic grey seal.
And if you want something more exhilarating?, why not learn something new such as kayaking, windsurfing or sailing at the Wirral Sailing Centre, based at the 52 acre West Kirby Marine Lake.
History buffs won’t be short of places to go either. One place worthy of special mention is the beautiful village of Port Sunlight, built by factory owner William Lever.
It’s a day out in itself, as well as parkland and over 900 Grade II listed buildings, it has the impressive Lady Lever Gallery (which has recently undergone a £2.8 million refurbishment) and the Port Sunlight Museum, which details both Lever’s and the village’s history.
The Wirral also has a thriving shopping culture, with many towns and villages showcasing a wonderful array of independent businesses, bars and restaurants – so you won’t be short of choice.
With all that in mind, we’ve spoken to a few of the local businesses, groups and schools from around the region to find out what they’ve been up to.
Morgan Dowler - Owner of Love Me and My Secret
When Morgan Dowler’s mum Amanda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, they did what most girls do when they need a pick-me-up – they went shopping. However, when the pair were searching for a suitable post-surgery bra, they were shocked to find how little was available.
‘I thought, this can’t be it,’ said Morgan, 24, who at the time was in her final year of a business and management degree at Leeds Beckett University. ‘There was no choice. So that’s where the business came from.’
Morgan, who lives in Heswall, decided to set up Love Me and My Secret, a company that produce comfortable yet pretty, feminine post-surgery bras. Their lingerie has been created alongside surgeons, doctors and nurses to give post-operative support in all the right areas, and the higher fronts and underarms hide any scaring. There are also pockets to hold a prosthesis discreetly and securely.
‘I thought if it could benefit mum – who has recently been given the three year all clear – and other women out there, then it is well worth doing. Since the initial idea we have been in product development before finally launching in March earlier this year.’
Love Me and My Secret now have four bras on sale, which start from £32.20. They are currently available online through the company’s website, but Morgan hopes over the next few months to be able to get them into shops on the high street.
‘The feedback we’ve had from ladies so far has been amazing. To be told that the bras are beautiful and that they help them feel feminine means all the world. The aim of Love Me and My Secret is to provide a line of bras that are practical and comfortable but restore femininity and confidence in women who deserve it most.’
Out of this world
An extra special packet of seeds has found its way into the hands of pupils at a Higher Tranmere primary school. They’ve journeyed from Cobham to the Netherlands, Russia and Kazakhstan, before going up to the International Space Station. The packet of 100 rocket seeds then travelled back down to planet Earth in the care of Russian cosmonauts, before reaching their final destination in the Wirral.
‘When we heard about the project Rocket Science and a chance to apply for the seeds, I knew we had to give it a go,’ said Mersey Park Primary School’s deputy headteacher and science coordinator, Rebecca Tootell.
‘We were lucky enough to be chosen and received two packets of seeds. We don’t know which seed packet contains the seeds which have been to space and which have remained on earth. The aim of the project is to see if there is a viability of food growing in space.’
The project is being run with the support of Kate Smith, a volunteer in school who also runs the gardening club, but two students have been chosen for the important task of looking after the seeds over the seven week period.
Eight-year-olds Milly and Luke have been meticulously looking after the important seeds and at the end of the timeframe will enter the results into a database which will be then analysed by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and professional biostatisticians.
Both year three pupils are in the gardening club, and Luke has aspirations to become a farmer in the future.
‘Milly was very keen to get involved and we knew with Luke’s ambition to be a farmer he would be a good choice,’ said Kate, who started the gardening club three years ago after pupils at the school often asked her to help her with the flowerbeds. ‘They are my little helpers and come up every day to water them.’
Wirral Open Studio Tour
Wirral artists open their doors once again this summer when the highly successful Wirral Open Studios Tour returns.
Now in its seventh year, the annual event will run from June 11-12 and will see an array of professional and semi-professional artists and crafts people exhibiting their work.
WOST organiser Dennis Spicer said this year has seen the highest number of artists wanting to take part. ‘We have at least 52 artists participating in the open which is brilliant. Ranging from photography to art, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.’
Geographically diverse across the Wirral, the open covers the whole peninsula with artists opening their studios, workplaces, homes, sheds, summerhouses and exhibition spaces so the public can learn more about their inspirations and the passion behind the art.
‘We are entirely self-funded and it’s all organised by the artists. It’s great to see so much diversity across one weekend and the public seem to enjoy it. We had more than 1,500 people visiting from across the North West last year.
Often they don’t realise that their next door neighbour is an artist!’
People wanting to visit or find out more can pick up the brochure (which contains a map) at local libraries, shops, galleries, cafés and bars.
Moyo and Jana Benson opened their friendly neighbourhood restaurant, Nova, on Pensby Road in 2011. Moyo was classically trained at London’s three Michelin star La Tante Claire and worked for Leith’s Catering.
‘I had worked in the Wirral for a while; we had a house and life, so it just made sense to open Nova here. We thought it would be quite nice to open our own place and it all kind of fell into place,’ he said.
‘My menu and food is all inspired by the seasons and whatever is available. I am also inspired by other people’s work, you can always learn. The majority of my ingredients are locally sourced – the beef is from a farm which is practically a stone’s throw away. I try to go as local as possible. We also make our own sourdough-style bread in the kitchen.’
Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group
With National badger week approaching June 25–July 2, we spoke to our local group, the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group, to find out more about what they do.
Formed in 1980, the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group is a voluntary organization which helps to protect badgers in the region. Originally created to combat the regular digging, torturing and killing of badgers in Cheshire and Wirral, the group now focus on surveying the number and distribution of badgers in the area, raising funds, education and awareness.
The group’s vaccination programme for badges against bovine TB began in September 2014 on the Adlington Hall Estate in Macclesfield. A grant from Chester Zoo enabled them to purchase all the essential equipment required and using their own funds, were able to pay for some volunteers to become ‘Lay Vaccinators’.
During 2015 microchipping was introduced to give a further insight into territory size, badger numbers and the status of setts within that territory.
To find out more about the group, visit www.wcbg.org.uk