Workshop 4: Regeneration Friday Group

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20th March 2009. Rising Brook Baptist Church Centre

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Workshop Team John Price (Leader) and Clive Hewitt (Chairman)
This was a large group with over 30 participants plus Carers/Helpers. There were story tellers and poets - visits to the circus - childhood sweethearts - boating disasters and memories of Stafford Pageant.

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Our Stories

Liz Hawley: Regeneration Group (Rising Brook Baptist Church Centre)


I used to live in the countryside at Oulton near Stone where my dad was the local undertaker. He produced hand-made coffins with timber from the timber yard and would French-polish them in our builder’s yard with my brother helping him. They were beautiful when he’d finished.

Down the road from where we lived there was a man who had a taxi and every now and again he used to take us to the seaside.

One time, when I was very young, ages ago now, he took me to Blackpool with my brother for the day and while I was there I got myself lost. They’d taken me in a taxi so I thought I’d better get a taxi back. I asked a Blackpool taxi driver to take me home. He said, ‘Where’s home?’ I told him and he drove me all the way back to Oulton.

I thought it was such a brainwave to get myself back home in a taxi but my sister wasn’t too happy.  She had to pay for it.

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Irene Harrison

Regeneration Friday (Rising Brook Baptist Church Centre)


I spent the first few years of my life in an orphanage but then I was adopted and went to live with my new parents in Stafford. My first trips to the seaside were in the early 1950s and I have some wonderful memories of holidays in Skegness.

One year we stayed at Butlin’s Holiday Camp and I saw a Punch and Judy show for the first time. I saw a lot of children sitting on the sands in front of what looked like a tent. There were little puppets in the window of the tent so I stayed to watch. One of the puppets was dressed in a police uniform and he was hitting another puppet on the head with a stick. Then there were different puppets talking and fighting with a crocodile snapping at them. When a woman puppet appeared carrying a little baby, she threw it into the audience and I caught it. I didn’t think it was frightening. It was very funny. The best part was sneaking behind the tent afterwards and seeing how it was done. Behind the curtain there were pieces of wood with strings attached that the man pulled to move the puppets. I thought it was amazing how he did the different voices.

On another holiday I went to a circus and the ring master asked if anyone would like to ride a horse. I put my hand up and they sat me on the horse - backwards. When I sat the right way and the horse trotted off, I didn’t realise I was slipping off. I looked above me and saw two ropes attached to my back. I couldn’t see the men across the ring pulling on the other ends of the ropes. The ringmaster said, ‘Now you’re flying.’ I wasn’t flying at all, I was doing my best to sit on the horse but I kept slipping off and as I slipped off I found my face on the horse’s backside with my legs up in the air. First I was on one side of the horse, then I turned round and I was on the other side. The more I tried to stay on, the more I kept flying off.

Another year we stayed at a big caravan park and I became friends with a lad  called Jimmy. Each day we met along a little path as I walked with my mother and father. One day he said, ‘Can I have a talk with you?’ Mother said, ‘Carry on, Irene.’ The next day Jimmy was there again, walking behind me. ‘Can I have a date with you?’ he said. Before I could answer, mother said, ‘Take no notice of him, Irene.’ On the last day of the holiday, Jimmy whispered, ‘Can you give me your name and address so I can write to you?’ I quite liked him by now but mother said, ‘Take no notice, Irene.  He’s only after one thing.’

‘What’s that, Mum?’ I asked. ‘All boys are just after one thing,’ she said. I didn’t know what she was talking about and kept walking along the path. I never heard anything from Jimmy after that but I still remember him. He was six and I was five.

Simon Heath

Regeneration Group (Rising Brook Baptist Church Centre)


I can remember going to the seaside when I was still at school and in my teens. I used to go to Llandudno, and sometimes Rhyl, with my parents. We went by car for a fortnight during the summer holidays. To me it was a chance to get away and to do something different.

In Llandudno we used to stay in a guest house about half a mile down the road from the front. The guest houses on the front were always quite expensive. It always seemed that we had the odd day when the sun shined and other days when you could guarantee it was going to rain. When it rained we stayed in the house and watched television, played a few quizzes or read a bit. Then we’d plan for the next day when we hoped it wasn’t going to rain. If the weather was nice I liked to go to the fair where there was the big dipper, or to the beach with the donkeys, the boats and the seagulls that were everywhere.

We had breakfast in the guest house and I remember we used to take some food with us and cook it in the house. When we bought food out it was basically junk food but, being a former professional chef who many years later worked in the catering industry and won several awards,  I always think the thing about food is that it’s all about the day you’re having. If you’re having a good day the food can be poor but it still tastes good.


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