Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sneak Lancaster office thief gets a run for his crimes

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a man was challenged after stealing petty cash from a solicitors and was chased down the street in Lancaster.

The burglary took place at 2.40pm on Thursday 2nd June when a man has sneaked into a solicitors on Middle Street, Lancaster.

He fled with around £150 in cash in a black tin from an office draw and was chased by staff up Middle Street, High Street, Fenton Street and across Meeting House Lane up towards the Castle.


The man is described as white, aged in his 20s, approximately 5’8” tall, slim build with cropped black hair. He was wearing light grey tracksuit bottoms, a black hooded top and possibly a black rucksack over one shoulder.

“The offender in this case was chased for some distance by staff," says PC Richard Tredennick from Lancaster Police, "and members of the public also tried to intervene and detain the suspect, causing a number of coins from the tin to be recovered.

“Unfortunately, the man got away and was last seen heading down the cobbled road toward the crossing on Church Street and China Street.

“I would appeal to members of the public who believe they say this man running along this route being chased by several members of staff to come forward and contact police on 01524 63333.”

Police hunt for Lancaster 'Distraction Burglars'

Graham Street, Lancaster. Image via Google Maps
Police are appealing for witnesses after two people attempted to steal from an elderly man’s home in Lancaster, which has left the victim very shaken.

The incident happened on Thursday 2nd June between 5.00 and 5.30pm on Graham Street.

Two men dressed in suits knocked on the front door of a man in his 80’s and asked him whether he wanted his back yard done in tarmac. The man said no and closed the door.

A short time later, one of the men in suits has hopped over the elderly man’s back fence and entered his kitchen saying that he was working on a neighbour's property and required the man to turn his taps on. While this was taking place the other man could be seen loitering in the alleyway.

The first man then distracted the victim while the other man entered the house and went upstairs, making a loud and untidy search of the bedroom before running back downstairs and out of the back door followed by the other man.

Detective Sergeant Simon Dent from Lancaster CID said, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and who witnessed something to come forward and contact police.

“Although nothing was taken and the victim was not hurt, he has been left shaken following his ordeal. It is important that the people responsible are caught and brought to justice.

“I would urge everyone to be vigilant and do not allow anyone you do not know into your home. People should always keep their doors locked even if they are inside the property and not give criminals the chance to take advantage.”

Victims of distraction burglary - who are usually elderly - can suffer terribly both emotionally and physically. Would-be thieves often claim to be from official organisations, so always ask for some form of ID before opening your door to someone you don't know. The Water Board - which has been obsolete for years - is often cited, so watch out for such slips.

• The Crimestoppers web site has a number of useful tips aimed at trying to prevent this sort of crime: www.crimestoppers-uk.org/crime-prevention/helping-prevent-crime/distraction-burglary

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancaster CID on 01524 63333 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Morecambe Brass Band bring 'Midsummer Memories' to the Platform


Morecambe Brass Band will be bringing ‘Midsummer Memories’ to Morecamebe's Platform in Morecambe with their performance on Saturday 2nd July.

Their performance will take you on an emotional journey of joy, tears and laughter as they present you with a delightful evening of musical memories.

Sit back and relax as the town’s very own award winning brass band help you re-live your memories by performing the musical recollections.

If anyone has a piece of music that brings back a special memory that they would like the band to play they can request it via the website www.morecambebrassband.co.uk

• The show starts at 7.30pm.  Tickets priced at £8 for adults and £5 for children are available on-line at www.lancaster.gov.uk/platform-tickets, from the Box Office on 01524 582803 or in person at Morecambe and Lancaster Visitor Information Centres.

Police appeal after Lancaster shopkeeper racially abused

Police are appealing for witnesses after a shopkeeper was racially abused in Luckyz convenience store on Ullswater Road, Lancaster.

The incident happened on Sunday 15th May at around 2.30pm.

The offender entered the store and  attempted to pay for some goods. The shopkeeper has declined to take one of the coins offered as he believed it to be counterfeit and the offender then racially abused the shopkeeper.

Officers have released CCTV images of a man that they would like to speak to in connection with this offence. The pictures show him in the shop and also getting into a car outside.

PC Phil Ladlow, Community Beat Manager for the area said, “I would appeal to anyone who recognises the person in the picture to come forward and contact police.

“I would also appeal to the person responsible direct to come forward and get in touch with us.”

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancaster police on 01524 63333 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Police appeal for witnesses after Preesall collision

Police are appealing for witnesses following a serious road traffic collision in Preesall.

It happened today, (Friday 3rd June) at around 1.50pm on Park Lane, near to the Saracens Head pub and involved a Ford Fiesta, a Nissan Sunny and a Mazda 626.

The Saracens Head Pub
Image: Saracens
The male driver of the Nissan had to be cut free by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and he was air lifted to the Royal Preston Hospital suffering from serious leg injuries.

A passenger from the Fiesta also had to be cut free and she was taken to the Blackpool Victoria Hospital suffering from chest injuries.

The road remains closed whilst accident investigators carry out their work.

Senior Investigating Officer, Sergeant Dave Hogarth from the Road Policing Unit said, “I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed the collision to come forward and contact police.

“The road had to be closed in order to allow expert investigators to carry out their work which will assist us in establishing what happened. Any information about the collision will be helpful and I would ask witnesses to get in touch.”

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancashire Constabulary on 08451 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Bravery Award for Lancaster Woman

Samantha Oram with her Bravery Award
A Lancaster resident who stopped to help a woman following a fatal stabbing has received a prestigious award to honour her heroic actions.

Samantha Oram was presented with the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award to recognise the assistance she gave to 37-year-old Tracy Dryden as she lay dying by the roadside on Friday 12th March  2010.

Tracy had been set upon by her estranged husband, John Dryden, on School House Lane in Halton.

Fitness enthusiast Tracy, from Ingleton in North Yorkshire, worked in Morecambe and would drive part of the way to work and then cycle for the remainder of her journey. Dryden stabbed her in the chest with a kitchen knife as she removed her bicycle from her car.

Tracy Dryden was murdered
by her estranged husband
in Halton last year
After attacking Tracy, Dryden waited at the scene for the police to arrive. Samantha, who lived nearby, was driving to work when she saw Tracy on the ground, and as she was in her cycling outfit and her discarded bike was beside her, assumed there had been a road traffic accident.

Mrs Oram stopped to offer assistance, placing herself between Tracy and Dryden while contacting the emergency services. When it became apparent that Tracy had been attacked by Dryden, Mrs Oram stayed with the mother-of-two. She ordered Dryden to move away while she did what she could to help Tracy, although she sadly passed away while holding Mrs Oram’s hand.

As a mark of her bravery, Mrs Oram was presented with the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award by Detective Chief Superintendent Graham Gardner last week.

The Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Award is given in recognition of acts bravery and life-saving in Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and the Port of Liverpool.

Mrs Oram was also presented with a letter of thanks from Lancashire Constabulary’s Chief Constable, Steve Finnigan.

Detective Sergeant Clive O'Beirne, who worked on the subsequent police investigation and who nominated Mrs Oram for the award, said: “After stopping to help, Mrs Oram eventually became aware of the fact that there had not been a traffic accident but that Tracy had been attacked by a man who still at the scene and who had access to a knife.

“In amongst these very confusing moments, Mrs Oram had to grasp the conflicting information and the possibility of grave danger to herself, whilst attempting to comfort and tend to Tracy who was bleeding heavily from a chest wound.”

He added: “I am very proud of Mrs Oram’s remarkable humility, actions and bravery. She is an outstanding individual who went beyond what was required or expected of her.  She will not consider her actions to be brave, nor is she likely to accept she has done anything more than anybody else would have done in similar circumstances, but it is my opinion and belief that Mrs Oram’s actions are more than worthy of this recognition.”

John Dryden pleaded guilty to murdering Tracy and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in June last year.

BBC's Crimewatch Roadshow - Live from Morecambe

BBC One’s Crimewatch Roadshow will launch its new six week series live from Lancashire on Monday 6th June 2011 - and will kick off in Morecambe.

The popular daytime show will be aired between 9.15 and 10.00am each weekday morning and will be broadcasting live from a different location across the North West during its first week.

Presenter Rav Wilding will be in studio while Miriam O’Reilly will be out on the road presenting from a different location each day.

The programme will be featuring Lancashire crimes over two days and will be live from Morecambe on Monday 6th June and Chorley on Tuesday 7th June.

Crimewatch Roadshow
presenter Rav Wilding
The programme will show re-constructions of crimes from across the county, CCTV appeals and people currently wanted by police in Lancashire. The show will also highlight some of the day-to-day work that goes on to prevent crime across the county.

“We aim to help solve the kind of everyday crime that often gets ignored by the press but has a devastating impact on its victims,” said Miriam O’Reilly. 

“We hope our reconstructions of crimes will encourage people to come forward with information which will help secure convictions.”

“The Crimewatch Roadshow programme was very popular last year," adds Lancashire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Steve Finnigan "and we were keen to take the opportunity, not only to showcase the hard work that goes on in Lancashire every day, but also to appeal for information about incidents and crimes that we are keen to progress enquires on and that mean the most to communities.

“Despite crime rates continuing to fall and some crimes being at their lowest levels in over 30 years, we are not complacent and we remain committed to keeping our communities safe from harm, and through our local policing teams we will ensure that we remain accessible and in touch with community priorities.”

There will be a number of appeals featured over the two days and anyone who has any information about a crime featured is urged to call the programme on 08000 468999 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.  The contact number for Lancashire Police is 08451 25 35 45.

• Official Crimewatch Roadshow site: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ss27z

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Police appeal for missing Fleetwood girl

(Update 7th June - girl returned home safe and well, story retained for archive purposes)

Police are appealing for information after a 14 year old girl went missing from her home in Fleetwood.

Courtney Jackson has not been seen since she left her grandparents address on Mariners Close on Bank Holiday Monday at around 9.00pm.

She has friends is Fleetwood and also in Blackpool and she could be staying with them. Courtney has been speaking to her mum on facebook but her parents do not know where she is.

Inspector Mike Charlton from Lancashire police said, “I would appeal for anyone who has seen or spoken to Courtney and may know where she is to come forward and contact police. She has not been seen since Monday and her family are becoming increasingly concerned for her welfare.

“If Courtney wants to contact us direct then she can do so by calling us on 0845 1 25 35 45.”

Lancaster McDonalds assault prompts police appeal

Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault McDonalds in Lancaster.

The incident happened inside the McDonald’s store on Cheapside on Tuesday 17th May 2011 at around 5.20pm.

The victim, a schoolboy, had a milkshake carton thrown at him before being grabbed around the throat and attempted to push him to the ground.

A CCTV image has been released of a man officers would like to speak to in connection with this offence.

“I would appeal for anyone who witnessed what happened to come forward and contact police," says PC Chris Smith, Community Beat Manager for Lancaster City Centre.

"I would also like to hear from anyone who recognises the man in the picture, or indeed the man himself.

"It is important we find the person responsible for this assault and bring them to justice.”

• Anyone with information is asked to call Lancaster Police on 01524 63333 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Council promotes Lancaster's tourist appeal

Lancaster Visitor Information Centre Assistants
John Moorhouse, Kath Luby and Robin Jamison.
Lancaster City Council is proud to be telling locals, visitors and potential visitors alike that our district is the place to be if you’re looking for a calendar packed with things to see and do in our city, coast and countryside.
As the council’s recently published What’s On Guide for 2011 flies off the shelves at its award winning visitor information centres in Lancaster and Morecambe, the council’s professional, friendly and experienced tourism staff continue to go that extra mile to provide the most up-to-date information on places to visit, things to see and do, where to stay and how best to get around.

Providing a one stop shop for information on local events and great days out, the centres can also boast the ability to provide a ticketing service for hundreds of events and attractions each year. To ensure a seamless visit you can even book accommodation for stays not just locally but anywhere in England and arrange bus and train tickets via the centres to help you get there.

Since winning the Enjoy England Visitor Information Centre of the Year award for 2011 in April this year, Morecambe Visitor Information Centre (VIC) along with Lancaster VIC have dealt with more than 14,000 enquiries.

Distributing information to potential visitors from as far away as India and Australia which includes listings of key events and attractions provided by a variety of local organisations is also a key factor in encouraging people not only to visit the district but to want to stay for a while.

The council’s tourism website www.citycoastcountryside.co.uk welcomes more than 10,000 unique visitors each month to feast upon a whole raft of information to tempt them into heading our way.

“Lancaster City Council recognises the importance of promoting events, festivals and attractions in our district and how events are important to visitor economy," says Coun Ron Sands, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism. "The council has been working more closely with other event organisers to pull together a menu of attractions which we’re sure will be difficult to beat.”

The main city council events this year will be the Sandcastle Festival on 6 and 7 August, the Seaside Festival with the Red Arrows on 10 and 11 September not forgetting a celebration of brass bands in Happy Mount Park throughout the summer and a full programme of exciting events taking place at the Platform.

Lancaster City Council is also once again proud to sponsor of this year’s Catch the Wind Kite Festival which takes place on 24th July.

• All these events are part of Morecambe’s Top 20 season of festivals. View www.lancaster.gov.uk/top20 for more information.

• For a snap shot of the main events taking place in the district this year, you can pick up a copy of council’s new What’s on Guide for 2011 from Lancaster and Morecambe Visitor Information Centres or by visiting www.citycoastcountryside.co.uk

Time to build better communities, says Government

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has called on Lancashire communities to start laying the foundations for the future developments they would like to see in their area, from new cop-operative housing schemes to local shops.
Mr Shapps said that communities across the region should start looking at the opportunities that the new Community Right to Build proposals could offer, which is currently before Parliament.


The government hopes the new Community Right to Build, seen as part of its much-touted Localism initiative, will shift power from Government and councils to neighbourhoods and allow people to deliver the homes and development.

New powers will mean that community organisations would be able to take forward new local developments without the need to go through the normal planning application process, as long as the proposals meet certain criteria and there is community backing in a local referendum. Projects with the support of more than 50 per cent of those that vote in a referendum will get the go-ahead.

Urban areas should look to making use of the powers, Shapps urged – after extending the scheme previously restricted to rural areas only – so that all communities across the country benefit from the new homes, shops and facilities they really want.

To kick off the discussions within communities, the government has published a new guide that gives people an idea about what the new powers could mean for their area (PDF) and encourages them to think about the sort of community-led development they want to see.

The government argues the plans will give communities the power to decide how to meet the local priorities in their area. For example additional housing to meet the demand of future generations, new shops where communities want to offer low rent deals to local convenience stores or farm shops, or a new community hall or sports facilities.

“I want communities of all shapes and sizes, living in the smallest of villages and the largest of cities, to have the chance to drive forward their own plans for the future of their neighbourhoods without being hindered by bureaucracy and red tape," enthuses
the Housing Minister.

“The Community Right to Build currently before Parliament would do just that, giving local people the chance to give the go-ahead to new, small-scale developments that meet certain criteria and also, crucially, the test of public opinion.

“I would urge anyone wanting to shape the future of their local area and get the homes they want built to look at today’s guide. Whether these communities are living in an urban area or a countryside setting, it should give them the pointers they need so they can lay the foundations for making their housebuilding dreams a reality.”

The Localism Bill involves a planning reform package which includes the abolition of regional strategies; a duty on local councils to co-operate; the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy and local plan-making reform including the new neighbourhood planning regime. Also in the legislation are measures about pre-application consultation and enforcement.


• The e-leaflet, ‘The Community Right to Build: An Opportunity in the Making’, is published today and can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/righttobuild.
 
See Also: 

• Community Land Trusts Network: www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk

• Locality: www.locality.org.uk 

• UK Cohousing Network: www.cohousing.org.uk (external link)

• Action with Communities in Rural England: www.acre.org.uk/our-work/community-led-planning 

• Confederation of Co-operative Housing: www.cch.coop

• For more details on the Localism Bill you can visit the UK Parliament website at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/localism/documents.html

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Does your business stand out from the crowd?

Joanne Allday
Lancaster and Morecambe College, in association with the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, will be holding a free business event ‘Standing Out from the Crowd’ on Tuesday 28th June 2011.

The keynote speaker is Joanne Allday, an experienced Sales and Marketing guru and one of just 300 Female Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the world.

Born into a business world, Joanne’s parents ran a successful retail outlet in Cumbria. From an early age, Joanne and her younger sister were enlisted to serve customers, stock-take and help their father make repairs and deliveries; giving them a hands-on understanding of every aspect of running a small business.

Joanne’s own entrepreneurial flair started to show at age 13, when she was legally old enough to have her own job – and earn her own money. She started a weekly paper-round and delivered three papers, instead of just one; earning three times the money in the same length of time. By focusing on marketing and sales strategies that increase profits and reduce the time business owners need to spend in their business, Joanne now helps her customers achieve the same thing.

Joanne describes herself as a real ‘marketing geek’ and enjoys sharing her knowledge using simple language; giving audiences practical tips that improve their grasp and use of marketing instantly, alongside real-life examples of what works and what doesn’t.

Light Refreshments will be available before the presentations and delegates will have the opportunity to network and visit the exhibition stands.

• For any information regarding this event visit the Chamber of Commerce website here, or if you would like to book exhibition space at this event Please contact Vicky Lofthouse on 01524 381331.

Cats Protection Summer Fair announced

Could you adopt Jingles? Find out
more from Cats Protection
The local branch of Cats Protection has announced its Summer Fair in aid of its work rescuing and re-homing felines great and small.

Taking place at 7, Cyprus Road, Heysham on Sunday 19th June, organisers say this year's event will build on the success of last and promises to be even bigger and better this year!  

Open from 11 am to 3.00 pm, there will be stalls selling gifts, bric-a-brac, home made produce, handicrafts, books and DVDs.  Throughout the day there will be games for the children, tombola, and a raffle with great prizes.  

You'll also be able to see some of our gorgeous cats and kittens that are available for homing. There are plenty of them, too - cats like Jingles (above), a sweet, gentle girl who was abandoned when her owners moved away. A neighbour took her in and looked after her, but because of family circumstances this is no longer possible and Jingles needs a new home.

Cloud and Jet were a bit wild and scared when
Cats Protection took them in, but time with the
fosterer and getting used to new people has helped
them to settle and they will be lovely pets.
She's not happy in the company of very young children, and is scared of dogs and would probably do better as an only cat where she can settle in at her own pace. She'll reward you with love and affection.

• For more cats that need re-homing and information on the Cats Protection in Lancaster and Morecambe visit: www.lancaster.cats.org.uk or call 01524 850112

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Lancaster Street Pride 2011: Deep cleaning our streets

Lancaster City Council, in conjunction with Lancaster district’s Community Safety Partnership, is planning out its 2011 Street Pride programme and is looking for people to take part.

Could your street benefit from a spring clean?
Would you like to help make your area a better place to live?
Would you like to work with others to build pride in your area?

Street Pride helps people to improve their area by getting involved with public agencies such as the council, police, Probation Service its Community Payback Scheme, local volunteers and neighbours.

Throughout the coming 12 months, 20 areas will be chosen and services provided will include street cleaning, gully emptying, minor highway repairs, weeding and tree pruning.

The aim of the project is to give neighbourhoods an initial boost to smarten up their neighbourhood and put pride back into our communities.

Coun David Smith, Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Community Safety, said: “Street Pride is a great way for residents and public agencies to work together and create community spirit in our district.
“Only by working together, and each doing our part, can we make our district a cleaner and healthier place to live, work and play.”

Street Pride events don’t replace Lancaster City Council’s normal programme of street cleansing, but complements it in areas that otherwise may not be able to be tackled.

There may be different reasons why to nominate an area to take part in ‘Street Pride’. It may be that the area has fallen into disrepair, or it may be that it cannot usually be tidied because of parked cars.

For more information, and to nominate an area to take part in Street Pride, visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/streetpride

Image: Central Lancaster back alleyway freshly cleaned, weeded, pruned and repaired by Lancaster City Council Street Pride Scheme.

Lancaster Unlocked: Medieval Market pleaseth ye townsfolke

Photos from Lancaster's Medieval Market on Saturday 28 May; part of the Lancaster Unlocked Medieval Festival weekend that saw activities and events throughout the area celebrating the City's ancient heritage.






Gillow Folk Line Up for June features Jon Harvison and Pete Morton

Jon Harvison plays the Robert Gillow on Thursday night
Lancaster's Robert Gillow hosts another fine line up of folk music this month, with ace guitarist Jon Harvison appearing this week (Thursday 2 June).

From Keighley, Jon plays guitar and sings and has an exceptionally powerful voice, acknowledged as being “one of the finest exponents of English contemporary folk song” (Folk On Tap magazine).  This time out at the Gillow, his set will be a mixture of his own material, other contemporary song and traditional English and Scottish folk.

Thursday 9 June sees an appearance by The Duo (Tony Cooke and Dave Emptage), described by one reviewers as Lancaster’s numero uno acoustic act and "the perfect choice of material is brought to life by their superb playing and vocal harmonies.”                                

Graham Robinson, appearing Thursday 16 June, is originally from Jarrow on Tyne but now living in Colne, Lancashire. Graham’s playing reflects the styles of the early blues masters - particularly the east coast, syncopated styles of Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Blake. Other major influences include Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Big Bill Broonzy, and Fred McDowell.

A typical performance will include impassioned renditions of songs from the above artists played with energy and conviction on a very old Stella and National resonator guitars.

As we reported earlier, Free Reed Band will be at the Gillow on Thursday 23 June as part of their 30th anniversary weekend, which also features a big gig at the Gregson. Based in Lancaster and formed in 1981 Free Reed Band is the region’s oldest-established Ceilidh band and has a well regarded pedigree of musical ability and experience, playing for ceilidhs and barn dances across the UK and France.  Most of the music comes from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, although don’t be surprised if you also hear pieces from Finland, the USA or France.

June's folk nights round off with a welcome appearance from Pete Morton (Thursday 30 June), about the best songwriter in the UK today. He's been performing to audiences worldwide for over two decades with his unique and involving style of songwriting and traditional singing. His songs are an unruly mix of humour, politics, religion, love and social comment, wrapping their way around the folk tradition.  His stageshows are intense and dynamic.

The national Guardian pronounced him “not only impressive but a revelation … totally original” and fRoots magazine said he is “… amongst the best the British roots music scene has produced in living memory.”  He has recorded eight albums of original material and one of traditional English songs. 

• There's folk music every Thursday night at the the Robert Gillow, 64 Market Street, Lancaster, LA1 1HP. Tel: 01524 36092 Web: www.pubfoodlancaster.co.uk

Free Reed Band celebrates 30 years of Folk

Respected Lancaster-based folk dance band Free Reed Band is to hold special celebrations to mark its 30th anniversary during 23 – 25 June 2011.

The main event will be a special ceilidh on Saturday 25th June 2011 at the Gregson Centre, Moor Lane, Lancaster when current band members Tony Cooke, Charles Ely and Andy Hornby will be joined on stage by former members of the band and the dancing will be directed by various Dance Callers – notably Mark Davies, who now lives in Budapest. This is a public event from 8.00pm to 12 midnight and tickets cost a mere £8 (£5 concessions).

Everyone is welcome. The more the merrier. The dancer you are, the player we get.

Based in Lancaster and formed in 1981 Free Reed Band is the region’s oldest-established Ceilidh band and has a well regarded pedigree of musical ability and experience, playing for ceilidhs and barn dances across the UK and France. The three band members, Andy, Charles, and Tony, are widely acknowledged as some of the finest folk music players in the area and play combinations of accordion, bass, mandolin, banjo, whistles and guitar - with an occasional song thrown in for good measure.

The band has always prided itself on being a community band – playing mostly for family celebrations and special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries; at social events for community groups such as churches and village halls; at charity fund-raisers and the like – although it has also been featured at a host of festivals, conferences, university and college dances, annual dinners, etc.

During its life, however, the band has also busked its way around England four times, built a diatonic rocket-launcher and carted it along to play at ceilidhs for two years, played a barn dance for passengers stranded at Heysham ferry terminal, constructed seagulls, lanterns and huge fifty-pence pieces with the band’s name emblazoned in Latin for no apparent reason and built the world’s largest stringed instrument from a tree trunk and pieces of rope on the banks of the River Lune.

Tony Cooke was a founder-member of the band, along with Sue Biddle, Barry Dalton and Frank Farmer – he was the only one not to escape. Barry, now living in Wales, and Frank, a resident of Cozumel in Mexico, will both be present on the 25th to play alongside a further six (or more we hope!) former band members to assist in making a bloody row. For ten years the band worked exclusively with dance caller Mark Davies.

Prior to the main celebration event at the Gregson, Free Reed will also be performing at The Robert Gillow pub (64 Market Street, Lancaster) on Thursday 23 June, from 9.00pm – 11.00pm. This will be one of the Gillow’s usual Thursday evening Folk Nights and is free of charge. Come and have a drink, relax and just enjoy the music.

On Friday 24 June the band will host an informal session in the Olive Bar of the Gregson Centre. It will start at about 9.00pm and all folk musicians are invited to bring instruments and join in.

"We're hoping for a big turnout, a reunion of friends and musicians from around the country - and much further afield," says Tony, "recreating the old Crown Inn sessions of the 1980’s or perhaps the Pan Celtic sessions of the 1990’s."

For information visit the Free Reed Band website