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Best of Friends
If you're thinking of joining us and are interested in who we are perhaps you’d like to know a little bit more about us and our history-so here's a brief outline for you.
We've never been short of Volunteers at Oakwell, even before the Friends were founded, and back in the Eighties this was still the case. At that time the Hall underwent a major refurbishment which brought it into the condition you see today, which meant a lot of cleaning and dusting had to be done, and the then volunteers undertook these tasks, as well as helping out in the Park.
As a result the decision was taken to found a Friends group - since there was so much enthusiasm available, we were underway!
Right from the start the decision was taken to give the group as wide a range of members as possible, making sure that there was something to appeal to anyone with as much or as little as you wanted to do, something we'e always tried to adhere to. A Constitution was put forward, elections were held, and we officially came into existence.
Our first events and workshops were quite well supported, and we set off with a Barbeque and Barn Dance in the Barn - just as well as the weather was terrible and the poor cooks, who were outside, got drowned(I know as I was one of them!), but everyone had a great evening, all in all a success.
During the get together we noticed that the Barn floor was uneven and needed pointing, this led to us offering to repoint it - an offer that was instantly taken up by the Rangers and so we started our outside activities as well. (It took 2 full days to do, but lasted for quite a few years.)
We began to organise Tea Stalls at events,in those days outside under the Visitor Centre canopy, and the first one raised the princely sum of £11.00 for our funds - a far cry from now!
We also began to contribute help to the Hall, and a group of members under the leadership of Joan Wood began work on the wonderful embroidered drapes you now see on the Westmorland bed, these were designed by Barry Lockwood, also a member of the group.
Guiding was introduced, but in those days we didn’t use costumes and in good old fashioned Museum manner sat in a room, only speaking when spoken to, pretty hard for a garrulous bunch like us. However this was soon changed and we began to dress in costume, either borrowed from the Hall or our own, and to undertake simple tasks such as making oat cakes, quill pen writing, and embroidery.
By now we were well into our stride and undertook a number of large tasks and projects, we have in the past:
- Dug out the Duck Pond (twice!) and obtained a grant from Shell to re-edge it and the island (done in winter so as not to disturb the Ducks)
- Helped build the Kirklees Waymark (there’s seven tons of stone in that!)
- Re done the original water feed into the wild life pond (it was just a bit of hose pipe originally!)
- Built the bridge next to the Bridle way (it was originally a bit of Stanlow refinery)
- We also took over the publishing of our newsletter and were so successful that we won awards, but we always need copy, so why not contribute an article?
At the same time as these outside activities we were just as busy in the Hall with our guiding and stewarding activities, and the Broiderers completed a further cover for the settle which can be seen in the Great Hall.
Perhaps the largest recent project was the restoration of the Walled Garden which Friend Beatrice Myers had a huge input into, and which led to a Royal visit by Prince Andrew - a fitting culmination to a lot of hard work both in the past and present. We also helped plan and finance the new 'Filddlehead And Fernblades' sculpture (by Adrian Mokes) in the colliery field-part of out 20th year celebrations.
It's not all hard work however as we enjoy a good chat and laugh with each other and the staff when we’re on duty, and everyone is very friendly.
Looking back over the years we’ve faced many challenges and problems, and learnt a lot of new skills, made a lot of friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so if you still interested come and join us - we can guarantee an interesting time.
Finally remember our unofficial motto;
MAKE FRIENDS, BE FRIENDS!