The community of Lytham St Anne’s, including MP Mark Menzies and the Mayor of Fylde Cllr Ben Aitken, have come together to support and celebrate friendship at Clifton Gardens retirement living village, where three friendship benches have been installed in the gardens.
Clifton Gardens, owned by housing provider Your Housing Group, provides retirement living accommodation for 140 residents, many of whom are veterans.
With help from the Royal British Legion, residents, local veterans, and businesses raised over £2,000 to purchase the benches.
One was designed and built by serving soldier Sergeant Liam Butterworth whose family live locally, and another was donated by Equans – a construction partner of Your Housing Group.
With many retired military residents, and since the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the village has introduced a number of initiatives to combat loneliness and support the mental health of its residents.
The purpose of the benches is to make it easier for residents to make connections and support each other.
It is often easier if a person is feeling isolated, to simply sit on a bench and await a friend to join them, rather than find the strength to knock on someone’s door and ask for help.
Linda Leeming from Your Housing Group is the Site Supervisor at Clifton Gardens and commented: “It was very rewarding to see the local community coming together for the good of our residents. I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard and those here today.
“Personal connections are so important, and we hope that these benches will help our residents remember that they all matter, and they can support one another and continue to thrive.”
Jim Thomas, a resident of Clifton Gardens since 2011 and serving 12 years in the Army said: “It’s wonderful that Linda has worked so hard and so closely with the Royal British Legion – it adds a focus to the residents here which is very much appreciated.”
MP Mark Menzies commented: “It is lovely to see the benches in place at Clifton Gardens providing a space for residents to relax and reflect.
“I am grateful for all those who have been involved, from the local community and the Royal British Legion and know just how much effort has gone into this brilliant project.
“This is a great example of how local people can work together and demonstrates the pride Fylde people have in their local area.”
Mayor of Fylde, Councillor Ben Aitken added: “It is good to see that local business connections and fundraising has resulted in these fantastic friendship benches unveiled.
“Fylde Council is delighted to support this amazing initiative and all British Legion projects and events. Working in harmony can achieve so much.’’
The unveiling took place on Thursday 1st September and guests at Clifton Gardens were welcomed by a Piper, before enjoying afternoon tea to celebrate the installation of the three benches.
Image: Mark Menzies MP (Con, Fylde), Mike Kendrick (local Royal British Legion Chairman), Mayoress Bernadette Nolan and Mayor of Fylde Cllr Ben Aitken (lr)
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