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Bickerstaffe Children’s Services: a press release I’m proud of

02.21.11 | Comment?

I do a lot of press releases, but I’m quite proud of this one.  The Big Society in action….

TV psychologist to open ‘Lodge of Little Angels’ in Bickerstaffe

Profesor Tanya Byron, chancellor to also Edge Hill University and a psychologist perhaps best known for her work on the TV series ‘House of Tiny Tearaways’ and ‘Little Angels’, will open ‘Bickerstaffe Lodge’, a brand new childcare and community facility in Bickerstaffe, near Ormskirk, on Thursday 3rd March 2011 at 3pm.

Professor Byron, who was also appointed Chancellor of Edge Hill University in 2008, will tour the new building which will offer full time nursery care from 6 months to school age, as well as an after-school club and much needed space for local residents and community initiatives.

Bickerstaffe Lodge is a true community project – principally funded by a loan from the previous government’s “Futurebuilders” programme, it is a not-for-profit venture which began 5 years ago as the dream of 3 parents whose young children attended Bickerstaffe C of E Primary School. Thus was born “Bickerstaffe Children’s Services” (BCS) which already runs “Fledglings” morning nursery and “Bickersplatts” after school club in the school building.

Tight budgets have seen many members of the community spending weekends building ramps, tidying the site and generally “mucking in” to ensure that the Lodge is ready to open in March.

“We are delighted that Professor Byron has agreed to come and open our fabulous new building which has been created for the local community, by the local community” says John Mercer of BCS “ it is real evidence of what even a very small group of local people can achieve when they work together”.

Mr Mercer, who is also Associate Director of the Business School at Edge Hill University, added: “We’re particularly pleased that Professor Byron, an early years development expert, is opening the centre because it reflects our commitment to early years excellence; two of our staff are already studying for Early Years Professional status at Edge Hill University, and we hope to develop and deepen our links with the university, as well as making available high quality childcare and early years development to the university’s staff and students in a countryside accessible close both to the M58 and the university.”



Editor’s notes:

1) The opening will take place at 3pm. Photographers/journalists are welcome to attend. Bickerstaffe Lodge is located next to Bickerstaffe C of E Primary school on Hall Lane Bickerstaffe. For further information email or call Director Paul Cotterill on 01695 732059 (email

2) The provisional timetable for the opening ceremony is as follows:

3pm Professor Byron welcomed to Bickerstaffe C of E Primary School and Bickerstaffe Lodge by Mrs Jeanne Hall, Headteacher, Bickestaffe Primary School and Sheila Mercer, Manager of Bickerstaffe Fledglings and Bickersplatts After School Club

3.05pm Flowers presented to Professor Byron by Bickerstaffe Rose Queen and Bickerstaffe Fledglings

3.10pm Welcome speech by John Mercer, Associate Director, Business School, Edge Hill University and Director, Bickerstaffe Children’s Services, including thanks to all members of Bickerstaffe community who have contributed, as well as funders and other supporters.

3.20pm Professor Byron invited to unveil the opening plaque and say a few words

3.30pm Refreshments and ann opportunity for guests and parents to review facility and proposed service in company of staff and Directors

3) The new building, Bickerstaffe Lodge will open for business, after a final inspection by Ofsted, in the first or second week of March (dependent on Ofsted officer availability). The facillity will offer childcare and early years development excellence for children between 0 and 5 years, and after school activities for children 4-11. The facility will be open year round, offering holiday care. In addition, the building will host community groups and over time BCS intends to use the centre as a base for adult and family education activities.

4) The investment package for the new facility is from a range of sources. The major investment of £210,000 comes from Futurebuilders England, principally in the form of a loan to be repaid over a six year period. Other significant contributions have come from the Rural Development Programme for England, with a grant of £40,000, and from the Bickerstaffe Educational Trust, who helped fund the building’s innovative, environmentall friendly, rainwater harvesting system.

5) The project has been long in the making. This is principally because of the need to submit several planning applications before the ‘special circumstances’ planning case was eventually approved by the planning authority, and then the need to draw in more funds as building costs rose.

6) Bickerstaffe C of E Primary School is a key partner to Bickerstaffe Children’s Services. The school already plays host to BCS’s early years education and after school club service. This partnership has helped the school develop its profile as a school delivering excellent primary education, and this was reflected in the most recent Ofsted inspection, which found the school’s foundation stage eduction to be ‘outstanding’. The school has seen an increase of around 60% in its school roll since 2005, and continues to be in high local demand.

7) BCS Ltd is keen to work with and support other ventures in the same field. BCS has already run a successful project in Skelmersdale, utilising underspent European grant funding which would otherwise have been lost to the area, to work with primary schools on the development of their ‘extended schools’ services.

8) Directors of BCS are John Mercer (see above), Linda Webster (also on Bickerstaffe Parish Council), and Paul Cotterill (Bickerstaffe ward councillor).

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