Friends Of Derby Park – Dow Foundation Follow Up (21st September 2022)

On the 21st September, representatives of the Dow Foundation (Trevor Murray, Dowhigh Director, Irene Hopkins (Business & Community Liaison Officer) and Owen Lea-Porter (IT Officer) met with members of the Friends of Derby Park who were one of our award winners in 2022.

Led by their Chairperson, Barbara Rouse, the group are all volunteers who are focused on maintaining and improving Derby Park and regularly run events within the park. You can find out more at their Friends of Derby Park Facebook page

The historic greenspace, built in 1895, is at the heart of our community at the centre of Bootle. A big part of Derby Park is their bowling green. Used by a loyal and dedicated group of players, the green area unfortunately over the years have been badly affected by adverse weather, vandalism and general disrepair. 

So when Dowhigh approached the group regarding the creation of the Dow Foundation and what we were hoping to achieve, it didn’t come a moment too soon for the group who were currently looking for sponsors and cash donations.

There were a number of requirements that the group had, but one of the most urgent requirements they had was new benches as many of the benches were in such a state of disrepair.

So Why Did The Dow Foundation Choose The Friends of Derby Park For An Award?

The Dow Foundation thought that the proposal for an award from Derby Park met a lot of their criteria including:

  • The group were focusing on a range of age groups. Although the current membership was more focused towards an older group, they had a plan to actively bring in younger players and players from other local groups including Sean’s Place (a group who provide mental help support for men in Sefton and Liverpool). 
  • Bowling is quite often a team sport and is perfect for bringing those people who could and often suffer from social isolation together. 
  • It was a local group right in the heart of our community, situated only ten minutes from the Dowhigh head office. 
  • The group actively promotes health and well-being to a range of age groups.

How Much Did The Dow Foundation Award The Group And What Was It Used For?

The Friends of Derby Park were awarded a donation of £500. After discussion with the group, it was agreed that this would be used to purchased three new benches. 

What was great about this award was that the benches were commissioned to be made by Bootle Tool Shed, another local group who had won an award through the Dow Foundation (via the Bootle Bike Shop). Bootle Tool Shed are a community group for people (mostly men over 50) who live in the area and want to learn new skills in a friendly environment with like-minded individuals. 

The benches would be custom made by Bootle Tool Shed and would replace existing benches which were beyond repair.

How Will The Award Benefit The Group?

The Friends of Derby Park are a group who are actively looking for members across a wide range of society. Their current membership if primarily older people, but bowling is a low impact sport that can be played and enjoyed by pretty much anyone, which means that the group can target any demographic.

By providing better facilities, the group hopes to be able to generate interest in the bowling green and are actively looking to bring younger people to the bowling green to learn to bowl.

They have already had a group of youngsters from Hillside school in Southport, and in 2023 are hoping to approach other local schools. 

But more than generating interest in the younger generation, bowling is a great sport to foster social interaction, bringing players together both competitively and socially. And it’s because of this that the group have been working with local mental health organisations, such as Sean’s Place, to try to bring people together and improve their mental well being.

These benches will help give people the opportunity to sit together, watching their friends and colleagues have a game of bowls whilst also giving them an opportunity to talk, building friendships and long term relationships.

The benches also help to improve the general aesthetic of the bowling green, making it look tidier whilst at the same time allowing the group to focus on other essential works that the group need to help improve their facilities.

Moving forwards, the Dow Foundation and Dowhigh are excited to see how the group grows in the forthcoming year and we wish the group all of the very best for 2023 and beyond! 

Barbara Rouse of the Derby Park Friends Group accepting her donation from directors Michael and Trevor Murray at the Dow Foundation awards

Dow Foundation award to The Friends of Derby Park –