Over the past few issues I’ve written about my wife Sal’s incurable cancer and how grateful we both were for the fabulous help we had from the City and QMC hospitals, Sarah, our local Macmillan nurse, the local Red Cross and the brilliant community nurses at Dovecote House on Wollaton Road.
Sadly, as some of you may know, Sal died at home, surrounded by her friends and family in June and it has been a hugely traumatic time for all of us who loved her. But I’d very much like to thank not only the organisations that helped but everyone in Beeston who have given us so much love, support and friendship. Sal appreciated it greatly, as do I and our three-year old daughter, Scarlett. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I think Scarlett is growing up in the best village possible.
One of the few events I’ve attended as Robin Hood since Sal died was the (re)opening of Beeston Library, on the 9th September, the day before what would have been our first wedding anniversary. I’ve lived in Beeston all my life and when I was growing up the library was incredibly important to me, giving me access to worlds, ideas, stories and new horizons – and when Scarlett was born Sal and I took her to the brilliant ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ baby music classes there which we all loved. I was asked a long time ago to attend the opening, to do some Robin Hood storytelling and help celebrate the renovation and Sal had planned to come down with Scarlett to see it too. Sadly, that wasn’t to be, but I really wanted to go for her and for me – and I’m so glad I did.
In these harsh economic times, where public money is increasingly difficult to find, Beeston’s ‘new’ library is a revelation and a joy to visit. Entirely redesigned, light, bright and airy but full of resources, space and almost unrecognisable from the old version it can and will be a wonderful community resource we can all use, enjoy and support. In a time of austerity and closures it’s something we should all be proud of – if you haven’t been yet, please do, you really won’t regret it.
Other community hubs are still being forced to close though sadly – as I write it’s just been announced that another stalwart centre of Beeston life (albeit for a slightly different demographic) is to shut its doors for good; The Greyhound, a frankly awesome rock pub famed not just locally but across the Midlands and further afield for passionately putting on some of the best live rock music gigs, will close its doors in a few weeks’ time, frustrated by brewery avarice and a massive increase (a doubling) of business rates.
I went to The Greyhound on the same day as I’d attended the library opening to see a brilliant (and local) Marillion tribute band, ‘Real to Reel’. You may remember Marillion’s most famous single ‘Kayleigh’ from the now 30-year old but still fantastic album ‘Misplaced Childhood’. I’ve been a Marillion fan since 1983, introduced to them by my school friend Rob Reid, who now fronts the tribute band. They played a blinder, and as you can imagine on the eve of our wedding anniversary it was a very emotional gig for me, as a year before Sal had walked into the hall to the sound of Marillion’s ‘Lavender’, a beautiful song which Scarlett even now loves to listen and dance to. So when the band played it as their final song of the night I admit I was in tears and very glad to have the support of some really good friends.
That’s the power of music, and also the joy of community. It’s a real shame we’re losing The Greyhound in its present incarnation because it (and its passionate staff who rescued and relaunched it not too long ago) rocked, both figuratively and literally. It will apparently become a gastro- and craft beer pub, which may well be wonderful – but will never be the same.
But then I guess learning to live with significant change is something I, and we all, have to do.
Tim Pollard, Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood
Is Beeston in for its best summer in living memory? Of course we’d say it was, as the trumpeter of all that is ace about our town.
But check out the evidence before you dismiss this as simple hyperbole:
- The Canalside Heritage Centre opens in June: see the feature on Page 3.
- Oxjam returns! There was doubt on its return, but we can confirm it all kicks off with the Unplugged event on July 1st.
- A week later, Beeston Carnival is back for its twelfth year.
- The Street Art Festival that will be brightening up some local walls.
- More beer festivals than you can drunkenly shake a stick at.
- Beeston Library reopens in August after a huge refit.
- The ABC Art Trail returns, showing off the best in Beeston artistic flair on the 3rd and 4th.
- TONS MORE! Really. For a town of our size, we certainly punch above our own weight. The Beestonian is always keen to hear about (and subsequently promote) exciting local stuff, so don’t hesitate to drop us an email at email@example.com
We also have a big project to launch, which we’ll tell you more about soon. As we now have joined the nineties and got ourselves a website, you’ll be wise to keep an eye out there: https://beestonian.com/. Now, open up this magazine and find just a slice of the talent stuffed cake that is Beestonia…
‘Inspire’ is a rather fitting name for a company looking to run a library. To my mind I can think of no better use of public resources than to hand a child a book. With each word their experiences grow, their world develops and they become greater. There is no better investment than that of education and for poorer households, and students like myself, the library has become a vital educational hub.
The Beeston Library has recently become the centre of a scare in the local community. Lord B. was already drafting placards by the time Councilor Kate Foale put fears to rest. In the wake of ‘toiletgate’ and the closure of the post office a brief and terrifying threat seemed to loom over the Library itself. The reality is thankfully not a closure but a change of hands. This change of hands will leave Beeston Library under the management of Inspire, a non-profit organization set up by Nottinghamshire County Council with a focus on the arts. Their remit includes libraries, music lessons, and supporting educational activities in the community. For Beeston this means maybe two major things: the library is staying but will be under new management, and that the library may be refitted to accommodate some of these other aims. They hope this will allow the Library to respond more rapidly to the changing demands of the community. Councillors have suggested that this refurbishment will take around 6 months and that in the process the library will absorb other services.
One perk of Inspire’s status is that it must be responsive to the public will. Their website is incomplete but currently the focus is on signing people up to their mailing lists and inviting members to their annual general meeting. Hopefully this means that the people of Beeston will get a greater say in how the library provides services. They certainly seem keen as over 4000 people signed up to have their say within a month of Inspire opening. Membership is of course free and all members will have an opportunity to stand for election to Inspire’s board.
In a comment to the Nottingham Post County Councilor John Knight, who chairs the committee for culture, seemed enthused about the project. He pointed to the current popularity of libraries throughout the county, having lent over 3 million books in the last year. He is hopeful that Inspire’s cultural events will allow for a greater sense of community to build around the library. With any luck these cultural events will be yet another chance to show off Beeston’s beating metropolitan heart, much like the various film nights at Cafe Roya and the White Lion.
Generally those I spoke to seemed optimistic, particularly hoping the move would allow for greater responsiveness to the wishes of Beestonians. Many however also seemed frustrated by yet another refit, especially given that “it hardly seemed 5 minutes since the last one”. One of the other local concerns raised regarded exhibitions by local artists. These were moved last year to a larger venue in an upstairs room at the library, much to the consternation of art lovers who pointed out that few people knew such a venue existed.
Overall the Library appears to be in safe hands with Inspire. Despite my own worries that this is a step towards the privatisation of local services, the democratic nature of the community group seems to be designed to keep the public involved. It also seems like a great opportunity for Beeston to once more show off its cultural variety. Hopefully the library can be a hub for Beeston’s seeming renaissance.