“Elaine and I were born three days apart…We were both born under the starsign of Virgo, but then we all were in those days.”
Jimmy Armfield, CBE, – he of the Jimmy Armfield South Stand, the Blackpool FC Hall of Fame and the Jimmy Armfield statue – was a most charming celebrity guest at the Blackpool Civic Trust Awards on 28 February 2013. Elaine Smith, chairman of the trust, hosted the proceedings, ably assisted by Radio Wave’s head of news, Andy Mitchell. The annual awards are held to honour those who have ‘worked to improve the civic environment of Blackpool’ and attendees included the Mayor, MPs, councillors, entrepreneurs, committee members, patrons, members, award winners and guests from the community.
The awards were presented alongside a slideshow which was both enlightening and revealing. Shots from the Civic Trust’s ‘Bare Attractions’ calendar, based on the Calendar Girls idea, was a big hit and it was a delight to see some familiar faces baring (almost) all in order to raise funds for the trust. Photographs of the Oracle building and the new Langdale Centre showed just how impressive these new structures are and it was great to see so many young people taking pride in their environment.
Colourful images of dancing girls in racy costumes at the new seafront venue, Viva Blackpool, were shown alongside a soundtrack of squeals and whoops from their table. I think there was some disappointment from the crowd when the award was collected by an all-male team. Likewise, the knitted reindeers were notable for their absence when Aunty Social went up to collect their award.
Food at the glittering event was provided by Heathcotes. It was a delicious meal which provided ample conversation as we marvelled at square potatoes, mozzarella pearls and a new twist to a rhubarb crumble which was a welcome departure for lovers of custard. Canon Andrew Sage, Civic Trust member, led grace before the meal and it was a surprise to some that it was both amusing and rhymed!
The vaulted Spanish Hall is the perfect setting for an event like this. The frieze of Spanish balconies and battlements which surrounds the room was lit up so that the mediterranean homes had tiny lights in the windows. Vintage light fittings and original ornate panels reminded all present of the town’s rich heritage.
A raffle was held following the meal in aid of the Civic Trust. Canon Sage led the proceedings in what was probably the most confusing raffle I’ve ever taken part in. Prizes ranged from pearl jewellery and a season pass to Blackpool Zoo to vouchers for Rowley’s Restaurant, bottles of brandy and an outdoor clock. There were white tickets, yellow tickets (which looked like white tickets), white tickets with blue edges, white tickets with orange edges, pink tickets (which looked like red tickets) and an awful lot of confusion as we struggled, in the candlelight, to tell exactly which colour ticket we were holding. Finally, the Canon resorted to reading out the unique reference numbers on the bottom of each ticket to avoid catastrophe. It was all taken in good humour, however, and it provided sufficient controversy to carry the conversation until ‘carriages at 11pm’.
Civic Trust Award Winners 2012:
- Junior Environment Shield – Boundary Primary School
- Senior Environment Shield – Blackpool Sixth Form College
- Blackpool Environment Action Team (BEAT) Award – HMP Kirkham
- Blackpool Council Conservation Award – Maysand Ltd
- Community Award – JOINT – Homes4Us and AuntySocial
- Open Spaces Award – St Stephens on the Cliffs
- Going the Extra Mile Award – Betty and Danny Bradford
- Best Shop Front Award – Abingdon Street Market
- Best Night Time Economy Award – Viva Blackpool
- Best Building Refurbishment Award – Langdale Centre (formerly Bispham Library)
- Best New Build Award – The Oracle
- Transforming Blackpool Award – Blackpool Football Club Hotel
- Outstanding Contribution – Blackpool Illuminations Team
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