Since my last blog the bunting donations have rolled in from local businesses and individuals. Last weekend we were on Windmill Lane on our eight mile route around the town having raised just over £200. The good news is that there is now just over £1500 in the kitty.
This means we have now funded the equivalent of 2.4 miles and so the journey continued during the week out along Windmill Lane to the junction with the B5035. We are really out in the countryside at this point and those who run the Ashbourne Half Marathon know that this is up a deceptive slope -normally the point at which the runners who haven’t put in the training are feeling slightly nervous.
We head back down into Ashbourne and onto the Green Lane. There is a lovely view over the town on the way across the Green and suddenly the houses close in on either side. We come alongside QEGS which has featured in the newspaper for both good and bad reasons. For years it was a fabulous school which topped league tables and had a reputation for discipline and achievement. More recently there has been a bad OFSTED result and a recovery programme. Whatever the current state of play there is no denying that the school has an enormous influence on the town. As we take a left onto Cokayne Avenue we see another school, Parkside, which has been on the same journey as QEGS and come out the other side all the stronger. The Rec looms up on the left hand side – currently the subject of long term development from Ashbourne Partnership. It’s also the scene of the Picnic in the Park which ends the Arts Festival. In Summer the sounds of bagpipes echo across the town from here and many of the town’s sports teams do us proud from here. Sadly the Rec has also appeared in the papers for vandalism to pavilions, cricket nets and bandstand over the years. On the right is one of the Town’s great new independent retailers -Betty’s Sewing Box – which offers teaching, materials and cracking cake! It is in the only remaining part of the once substantial Ashbourne Hall which graced this end of Ashbourne until parts were demolished and the parkland became today’s Rec.
We then make it to Madge Corner. It’s from here that we can see the fruit of our labours. The view along towards St Oswald’s on a hazy summer evening is wonderful. The iconic bunting photographs are taken from this spot. It is also appropriate that a big contributor to the success – Linda Elaine who did the sewing on the bunting – is just along the street from here and the first of the wonderful Georgian buildings is on the left – the site of the school established by Erasmus Darwin for the education of young ladies. If we turn back and look at the Park we have the memorial gates. Remembrance Sunday is always observed well in the town. We welcome and respect our Armed Forces in Ashbourne and have strong ties with the Mercian Regiment. On Remembrance Sunday the Last Post is played to a large and respectful crowd here.
As we head down Park Road we come to Shawcroft but not without passing by the great “stone wall controversy”. The flood defence work carried out by Derbyshire Dales didn’t quite deliver what everyone was expecting and we ended up with a conspicuous brick wall against the previous stone. Shawcroft is full of stories in its own right – the shocking forced closure of Coffee Stop cafe, the new superloo with its odd opening times, the late night gatherings of young drivers and the Benny Hill chase of a criminal by Dave Leigh. There’ll be more about Dave and the Smiths Tavern as the journey continues but, as one of the biggest financial contributors to the bunting fund. he deserves as many mentions as we can fit in.
Shawcroft is also the centre of attention for two days of the Ashbourne year. Shrovetide brings the world’s Press to a small Derbyshire market town to look on slightly startled, slightly bewildered but ultimately fascinated. It would be lovely to think that one day our bunting would stretch from goal to goal. In terms of Ashbourne News Telegraph press coverage it’s difficult to know where to start. The late night “out of time” goal a couple of years back added some controversy and so did the funds embezzlement which took some hard-earned fundraising out of the game.
The end of this leg of the journey is just by Ashbourne Fire Station. The fire station has been in the news by inference given the number of serious car crashes, burning cars and fires in and around the town. They also need our support to make sure we protect not only the station but the number of engines housed there! With the increase in houses coming and the increasing traffic resulting I really hope it doesn’t end up on the front pages in coming months.
We are now around a third of the way to achieving the target. Now we are back in the town hopefully the next donations will take us past more of the kind businesses who have donated either money or services to the bunting fund. If you would like to contribute you can do so at http://www.gofundme.com/bunting or by personal donation to either Stuart Lees or the Ashbourne News Telegraph.