Susan Marsh Memorial Garden Event

photo of Susan Marsh Memorial Garden

On the 10th August 2018 we held an event to celebrate the life of Susan Marsh and as some remember her Susan Pimblett, which was her maiden name.

It was great to see so many people at the celebration including Susan Marsh’s family, friends and supporters from the 1970’s, the Community Centre user groups, including Angela West and her angels from our Ofsted Outstanding Nursery, who do a fantastic job for Pre-School children on Hag Fold.

The Chief Executive of Wigan Council Donna Hall, our local Councillors, and supporters of our appeal for funds, which included Atherton Library Group, Atherton FC, and local Councillors with their Brighter Borough funds, which raised well over our target of £500.00.  We also thanked the young people from “The Challenge on the National Citizens Service 2018” who helped to design and worked on the project. Most of all we thanked Vicky Marsh, Susan Marsh’s daughter and her partner Gareth Gregory who spent days working on this memorial garden, which will be a lasting memorial to Susan Marsh.

The Spinney provided a fantastic catering for the event thanks to Ailie Wallace the Hospital Director of the Spinney, and George DeBattista the Hotel Services Manager.

Without Susan Marsh inspiring 17 young people in 1971 to campaign for a Community Centre and Youth Club on the Hag Fold Estate we wouldn’t have a Community Centre on Hag Fold. Susan did what I could never achieve over ten years, she organized a petition which achieved all its aims.

The Hag Fold Community Centre was opened in 1976 by the Mayor of Wigan Councillor G. MacDonald and over the years has been rebranded as Dorset Road Community Centre and now “The Bridge” at Dorset Road Community Centre.

The Centre was originally run by a Community Association set up by Atherton UDC in 1973 which included representatives of residents and Councillors. Susan Marsh was appointed as the first Honorary Secretary.

When the Centre first opened in 1976 the Council contributed to the day to day running costs. In 1998 the Council considered closing the Centre, unless the Community was willing to form a Limited Company and Charity to run the organisation, consequently Dorset Road Community Centre (Atherton) Limited was set up to achieve those aims.

In 2012 the Council withdrew the £5,000 annual funding, and the Centre was forced to revise its business plan to achieve a viable future without any subsidy. At this point Atherton Pre-School Day Care Limited were looking for new premises to run their Nursery, and the Centre was an obvious choice. Both organisations had to make a difficult choice at the time. The Community Centre would have to give up their Conference Room to accommodate the Pre-School, and the Pre-School had to move away from its traditional catchment area in the Town Centre, with the risk of losing children from families, who had sent their children there for generation. Well, six years later we are both sustainable organisations, with what we hope will be an even brighter future.

Donna Hall CBE the Chief Executive of Wigan Council unveiled the Memorial Plaque, and opened the Garden, as a permanent memorial to Susan Marsh for all the work she did for the Hag Fold Community.