Last Friday's Climate Strike day will have a lasting legacy in the Ribble Valley town of Longridge - if the community heeds the mayor and local schoolchildren as Fiona Finch reports. Photos and video by Neil Cross.
A modest banner helping to signpost the way to the Climate Action Day strike at Longridge’s Palace Cinema was an emblem for a community’s concern.
Painted by striker Clare Hyde it said simply: “Let’s stand up for what we stand on.”
At 11am all age groups came together in this Ribble Valley town to hear an impassioned rallying call from local schoolchildren and the town’s mayor Coun Steve Ashcroft. They asked those present to heed the planet’s needs and make Longridge a plastic free zone renowned for its concern and care for the environment.
The event hosted by the Palace, was the idea of one local schoolgirl Nia Williams, aged nine. The call to make Longridge plastic free came from another local nine year old Jeannie Wilkinson who cited the example of Penzance. Both spoke from the Palace stage with confidence and clarity.
Nia had wanted a climate strike with a difference, one that was inclusive and was not so much about striking on the streets but sharing ideas and moving initiatives forward. She and her sisters had created collaged posters advertising the event and Daisy Williams, 12, was also the event's compere .
Mayor Coun Steve Ashcroft described how the town council had acted on Jeannie’s plea and voted to make the town plastic free, but stressed: “It’s very easy for 12 people to sit in a room and make a decision, but to follow we want action not apathy. There’s over 600 towns followed the example and lead of Penzance so there’s lots of information around about how we should go about this. There’s a pack Surfers Against Sewage have produced that we can look at. I think the key element is the involvement of the community. It’s not going to work otherwise.”
He praised those already involved in such work, including the local U3A group which had lent its support to the action day and said “My hope would be for a group to be formed. I’m hoping Jeannie will continue to help with this and the school.”
Jeannie was accompanied by her headteacher and some pupils from Hurst Green St Joseph's RC school. A group of pupils from Longridge High school also attended the event.
Clare said she had painted her banner: “Because we live on the most perfect planet in the solar system as far as we know and we’re trashing it.”