Parkinson’s Park built a bridge from the past to the future on Sunday, as the first Children’s Gala to be held there in 20 odd years brought out the sunshine, the crowds and the generosity of many organizations and people.
The purpose of the Gala was to revive a Guiseley tradition that has left generations of locals with happy childhood memories. And, in fact, one visitor on Sunday came along on a ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ quest, after finding out a great grandmother came from Guiseley.
Crompton Parkinson’s started the annual Gala in the late 1940’s, after local business man and philanthropist Frank Parkinson died suddenly after the Second World War, leaving money to be spent on social activities for the factory employees and their families – the majority of whom lived in Aireborough. The factory was pulled down in 2006; and in 2011, The Friends of Parkinson’s Park was formed to save the Park from becoming a wilderness, with the firm intention of once again holding Children’s Galas. On Sunday that ambition was fulfilled in style with the help of grants from Leeds City Council North West Area Committee and Red Nose Day Community Cash, and the voluntary work of numerous local residents.
Professor Dan was a great hit with his Magic Act, and Punch and Judy show; facepainting produced some frightening creatures, and Guiseley Brass Band performed magnificently keeping everyone humming traditional tunes. The fairground stalls were very popular with Hook a Duck, a coconut shy, and Roll a Penny, amongst a myriad of games to try: whilst football, golf, and egg and spoon races kept all sporty fans happy.
Local organizations, private, voluntary and public, and many individuals, joined together with organizers Chris Parapia, Barbara Winfield, Andrea Fletcher, and the Friends to make the event a success. Guiseley Methodist Church, ran a Messy Church tent with a range of arts and crafts activities including planting autumn bulbs (pictures and report here). Guiseley Library had a stand with a ‘book’ focused treasure hunt, and a prize to be collected in the library. Aireborough Historical Society came to sell their ‘then and now’ calendars (with donations to the Park) and Sian Cartright got ‘busy with the baking’ for the cake stall. Richard Slatcher from The Station Pub, lent the Farmers Market stalls, and the manpower to put them up, whilst Ian Dawes brought Subman from Subway. The Scouts and Richard Penny put up the marquee and supplied tables and chairs, and the fairground games were kindly lent by Westgate School, Otley.
Prizes and support was also received from SJK Taxis, Bargain Booze, Shay Grange Golf and Nuffield Health; whilst amateur artist Jeff Halden donated for auction a picture he’d done of the Park – the winning bid was £50 from Allan Cheetham.
The event was filmed by Sallie Gregson of Leeds Today, an online local television news service produced by trainee journalists as part of their postgraduate course in Broadcast Journalism at Leeds Trinity University – the result of which can be seen here (10.9.13, time 13.12). Sallie interviewed a range of people and was particularly impressed by the way the Gala brought new residents together with long established Guiseley families, and the tradition of the Gala itself.
New media was also used by a number of young people, who tweeted their whereabouts to Friends; a dramatic change to the past where children were given name badges to wear so they did not get lost (an old name badge is now in the care of Aireborough Historical Society’s Yeadon archives).
Meanwhile, on the FOPP stand, the Friends took the opportunity to ask visitors about the future, and ideas for the Park’s development. Not unsurprisingly at a Children’s Gala, natural play features topped the poll, and these may well become part of future Children’s Galas.
If you would like to help with next year’s Gala, join the Friends of Parkinson’s Park, run an improvement project, join in regular maintenance, help uncover the past in our All Our Stories project, or simply have an idea for what could be done, then please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org , fill out a membership form, or vote in our improvement poll on the right hand sidebar.
Thank you to everyone for coming and for making the day a success.