Help needed to give Preston's iconic Guild Wheel a facelift in time for a special birthday

Preston's iconic Guild Wheel turns 10 this year.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 3:45 pm

And the folk who lovingly care for it are planning a host of ways to celebrate the anniversary.

The Friends of the Guild Wheel have begun sprucing up the 21-mile greenway which encircles the city in readiness for the actual birthday in mid-August.

The group will be spreading the message at events across the city during 2022 - like the traditional egg rolling on Avenham Park - in an attempt to boost the route's profile.

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Friends of the Guild Wheel need more volunteers to help spruce it up in time for August.

And there are plans for a Preston Cycling Campaign next year to keep up the momentum generated by the 10th anniversary celebrations.

"The Guild Wheel is such a brilliant community resource in Preston and its benefits are far-reaching in terms of health, fitness, wellbeing, conservation and environmentalism," said Heather Waddington, daughter of the Wheel's co-founder Mike Atkins and secretary of the FoGW.

"The Guild Wheel also serves as a nature and wildlife corridor, which connects several nature reserves around the city, including Brockholes, Fishwick, Haslam Park and Dobcroft Nature Reserve at Ingol.

"But it needs all our help to survive, thrive and improve."

Friends of the Guild Wheel have already planted trees and bulbs.

The group is looking for volunteers to give a hand with the anniversary year and beyond. And it is also urging Wheel users to send in photographs for a special calendar for 2023.

Already the FoGW have been organising monthly volunteer task days to tidy up stretches of the route. They are hoping that enough people come forward they can increase ot to two a month.

"Since August we have planted 80 trees and 1,000 spring bulbs, which were supplied by Barton Grange Garden Centre, as well as cleared the path and picked up many bags of litter, making it safer for cyclists and walkers," explained Heather.

"But we want to do more and we need help. So we are making an appeal to the people of Preston for more volunteers to come forward.

Volunteers meet once a month to tidy up a stretch of the 21-mile route around Preston - but more are needed.

"We are looking for people to help with the volunteer task days, people to join the Friends of the Guild Wheel committee, people to help with social media, fundraising and events organising and also people to get involved with our 10th anniversary events and other projects.

"We would welcome volunteers who have experience in fundraising, writing bids, events planning and social media.

"The intention was always to expand the network by building ‘spokes’, to link up other existing cycle routes. We need funds to maintain what already exists and enhance the Guild Wheel to fulfil the original plan.

The 2023 Guild Wheel calendar will feature photographs showing the greenway in all its glory throughout the last 10 years. If successful the group hopes to produce one every year.

Heather went on: "Following the Guild Wheel anniversary year, FoGW want to continue the momentum and support a cycling campaign for Preston.

"We hope to capitalise on new measures to improve safety for cyclists and walkers. These include those in the new edition of the Highway Code, and the appointment of Chris Boardman, former Olympic Gold medallist, as head of Active Travel England (ATE). His role is to oversee and enforce a new responsibility on local authorities to implement proper planning for cycling and walking, and to develop sustainable forms of transport and improved safety.

"These measures could kick-start a new campaigning movement for cycling in Preston and district. Across the city we want to improve traffic-free routes, increase commuter cycling and make it safer for cycles and pedestrians alongside traffic on our roads."