By Andy Hirst
Golcar residents were fed up seeing their village blighted by dog muck, rusty bins and neglected flowerbeds … so they decided to do something about it.
They set up Golcar Lily Environment Group – or GLEG for short – and since then this dedicated band of volunteers have transformed the village.
The road at the heart of the village, Town End, is now a riot of colour with planters full of flowers and even an old canoe has been turned into a quirky, unique planter filled with flowers and grasses.
Little gardens have been created by the Co-op and chemist, there are big new flower borders at the recreation ground and Golcar’s many ginnels have been cleared and tidied.
There have also been countless litter picks but GLEG has done just more than clean up the village, it’s fostered a new sense of community spirit.
GLEG chair Matt Ellis said: “People think the work we do is about making Golcar pretty, that it’s about the flowers and the cleared ginnels. That is where I started too. Now I see something different.
“Through the volunteering we do new people are welcomed into our community, friendships formed, people feel safer and there is a sense of community and pride in Golcar.”
The first Covid lockdowns meant the group didn’t do anything for nine months but, surprisingly, 2021 has turned out to be the group’s most productive year.
Matt thinks it’s because people are desperate to connect with one another again, get outside into the fresh air and do something constructive.
He said: “Covid helped us realise we need to be around others and that we need to belong. We had the best conversations and it was the highlight of my week.
“People who saw us working gave us drinks and thanked us, which was great. It made us feel part of a community and connected – something we lacked in the lockdowns and the Covid restrictions.
“One of the things we have observed as a group is that people are drawn to the gardens and spaces we create. People sit down near the flowerbeds or on the bench with planters.
“They enjoy the space and they connect with others. Every effort we make to improve Golcar’s environment also improves our wellbeing as a community and what, in these difficult times, could be more important than that?”
Some parts of Golcar still suffer from fly-tipping and litter so the group is always busy and its regular meet ups known as Toil on Tuesday have seen more than 10 volunteers each week out in the community working away. This included installing the canoe planter and flowerbed by JJs café on Town End.
The volunteers get the odd negative comment with one lady complaining about the new garden by the Co-op, telling the group it would be “better being made into car parking spaces.”
GLEG are out on the third Sunday of every month except August and December and meet weekly early evenings once a week from May until August.
Anyone wanting to join GLEG can sign up to be a volunteer at https://www.golcarlilyday.co.uk/environment.html
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.