THE woman who initiated a scheme bringing benefits to Stalybridge thanks to a woman’s dying wish has admitted she had never heard of the place.
Joanne Walker messaged Cllr Clive Patrick to say Mabel Wilson wanted part of her estate to be handed to the Conservative Party in the town where she was born.
Since then the pot has grown to £14,000 and has bought new planters in Carrbrook and Millbrook, play equipment being replaced in Brushes, donations of food, nappies and sanitary products to the Tameside East Foodbank and now a pantomime visiting five of the town’s primary schools.
Funds are still coming in, with the women at the luncheon club Mabel attended in Chester deciding this year their chosen ‘charity’ will be the children of Stalybridge and giving £1,000.
Not bad for a place that Joanne had never heard of before discussions with Mabel’s only living relative, her niece Hazel.
“I must be honest I’d not heard of Stalybridge before all this,” she said. “All of this has come as a huge surprise.
“Now I’ve been here and seen how nice an area it is, I like it. You never know, I might even look to move here.
“I was asked to do it by Hazel, who found out that Clive worked where I do at the Eye Hospital. Everything that has happened since has been brilliant.”
Since approaching Stalybridge South’s Cllr Patrick, who it turned out is a colleague of hers at Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital, Joanne was at Carrbrook Fete in July with a chocolate tombola stall.
She also attended the foodbank to handover the £600 donation, which has been followed up by £1,000 worth of children’s toy, with the sanitary products being her idea after hearing of the growing problem of ‘period poverty’.
It is all very different from when Cllr Patrick first received an e-mail from her as he returned from Australia wondering if it was a scam!
Now a new see-saw is to be installed at a playground on the estate at Brushes from the generous gift.
A ‘non-bump’ piece of equipment is being put in place after the residents’ group decided the old one needed replacing.
And a new safety surface has to be installed underneath it, meaning the original cost estimate of £3,500 has risen to £6,000.
As a result, a bench proposed for Carrbrook with the inscription ‘In loving memory of Mabel, who loved Stalybridge’ will now not be placed at Woodview.
However, the benefits of the new play equipment are seen to far outweigh those of having a new bench installed.
Mabel’s gift came after her death at the age 87 of last October and after initial scepticism after receiving the first e-mail, Cllr Patrick has been left stunned by the effect it has had.
Now the ‘rock ladies’ in Carrbrook, women who look after street furniture in the village, have plans of their own.
“They may put planters on South View,” said Cllr Patrick, who is also a member of Carrbrook Residents’ Association.
“But to be honest, I thought the e-mail was a scam when I first received it. I never even thought anything like this would happen.
“On October 14, there was a church service to mark the first anniversary of Mabel’s passing and the collection of £350 was handed over to the people of Stalybridge.
“All of this humbles me greatly. We’re now just going from strength to strength.”