There were two events last summer, one wonderful, one tragic, that occurred within days and metres of each other. Together, they both summed up what it means when the phrase ‘Beeston community’ is used.
The tragedy was the drowning of 12-year-old Owen Jenkins; while the wonderful event was the transformation of the canal side cottages from derelict wrecks seemingly only fit for the bulldozer into an incredibly beautiful public space.
While the event was tragic, Owen’s death saw something wonderful emerge from it. Spontaneously, thousands displayed their sorrow by donning purple: for a while the whole town was festooned with shades of mauve to mulberry, plum to raspberry. On the day of his funeral, Beeston’s streets were lined with those paying their respect; the hundreds of motorbikes that formed the tale of the procession was a sight that will live long in the memories of Beestonians.
The Canalside Heritage Centre wasn’t transformed into a top-class attraction, café and garden by some top-down project. Rather, locals decided to take the dilapidation into their own hands and create something wonderful. After a great year of events, development, and ambition its looking like a place we will treasure for generations: and while our grandkids will enjoy the gardens overlooking the weir, they will solemnly acknowledge the land it backs onto, which will be known by all as ‘Owen’s Place’.
Stories like these, stories that illustrate how a community works, are what makes us all proud to put together The Beestonian. I personally started writing about Beeston a decade ago, and swiftly discovered that not only were people interested, but that there were more stories out there than I ever imagined. Putting them out through a magazine seemed like a natural step, and 7 years on I’m delighted that we have become part of Beeston’s fabric, with our issues disappearing from stockists so fast our drop-boxes are scorch marked.
However, we realised some time ago that to keep it free and accessible was a difficult job. We are staffed by volunteers, and rely on local advertising to cover print costs. This generally works well, but we were unable to get out as many issues as we’d like. Surveys we ran always came back with the same conclusion: readers wanted to actually read the thing!
We’ve now found a way to expand our accessibility, keep the magazine free and run sustainably for years to come thanks to a helpful community grant (thanks National Lottery!). This will be the last issue in the current format, and at Beeston Carnival in July we are returning with something beautiful, something colourful, something that you are part of us much as those who write it. We want a truly community magazine, and we want YOU to be part of it.
We have a wonderful town. We have more stories to tell than we can fit in a magazine, so we’d love you to help us. Write for us. Report for us. Tell us what you are doing. Read us. If you own a business, consider advertising with us. This is YOUR magazine.
This town, this unique gem of a place cosied between the city, the Trent, and the rolling hills of Bramcote is not just where we live, it is our home. As became clear in both awful and wonderful ways last summer, that is precious. We are all delighted that we get to shout that out to the world each issue.