Words by Gary Carter
A KIND woman’s final gift to her home town means a brighter future as councillors were left more than £10,000 after her death aged 89.
After being born and brought up in Carrbrook, Mabel Wilson thought of no better place to leave a legacy than the area she once called home.
Now after a pot of £10,600 found its way to Conservative councillors, a number of schemes are planned with the gift from the former primary school teacher.
Mabel’s impact will be felt in Brushes, Carrbrook and on Mottram Rise.
“There are plans to put new planters at Woodend Lane, at its junction of Mottram Road, new equipment for a playground on the Brushes estate and a bench at Woodview in Carrbrook with the inscription ‘In loving memory of Mabel, who loved Stalybridge’,” said Cllr Clive Patrick.
“In her will, she left two pots of money – one went to Dr Barnardo’s and the other came to me.
“She lived in Chester all her life apart from her childhood and she wanted to give something back to Stalybridge.
“She always had a soft spot in her heart for where she came from and she wanted to leave some money to make a difference.
“She wanted to do something she’d be remembered for and that her family can remember her for.
“She was a lifelong Conservative and her family contacted me as there aren’t many of us Conservative councillors around here.”
Cllr Patrick was contacted by Joanne Walker whose mother is a friend of Mabel’s niece Hazel, her only living relative.
It turned out Joanne worked on the floor below him at Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital.
Cllr Patrick, who represents Stalybridge South but also sits on the Carrbrook Residents’ Association, explained:
“Before Mabel died, she put money in a box. There was £5,000 in £20 notes under her bed!
“Joanne contacted me and told me the story of Mabel and that her family had chosen me and did I want the job of spending the money?
“Of course I said yes and started on ways of putting it to good use.
“At the time it was £5,000 but then the ladies at the luncheon club Mabel attended in Chester said they wanted to do something, so they organised two raffles which raised another £350, Joanne and her family added £1,000 and after her will went to probate, we ended up with the £10,600.
“She must have been a wonderful lady.”
Initially, Cllr Patrick’s plan was to create a playground with his windfall, either in Stalybridge or Carrbrook.
But cost of equipment, insurance, up-keep and training courses so people knew how any equipment worked meant that could not happen.
However, he has agreed with Jigsaw, formerly known as New Charter, to make a difference to an already existing play area called Bailey’s Back, off Brushes Road.
“The playground there is secure as it has a lockable gate and all the other things that prevented me creating a new area are already in place,” said Cllr Patrick.
“Initially, they were sceptical but now their legal department thinks the scheme for new equipment is a goer.
“Now it’s up to them, us and the residents’ group to decide what to put in there.
“There was a little bit left, so we’re looking to put a bench at Woodview in Carrbrook in Mabel’s memory – there may also be work done on the car park opposite the Buckton Vale Institute to tidy up a planter.
“Myself and Cllr Doreen Dickinson have been discussing the planters at Woodend Lane.
“There are six there, three on each side of the road, and they have been getting in steadily worse condition.
“Now plans are being drawn up to install new ones made from railway sleepers measuring.
“Doreen has always wanted to do something there – now the new planters will be there for years to come.”
Naturally, Cllr Patrick had his doubts when he was first contacted by someone offering to give him thousands of pounds in cash.
He added: “I was actually in Dubai Airport when I received the first e-mail as I was on my way back from Australia.
“It was basically a message saying ‘This lady wants to give you £5,000’.
“I wondered if it was one of those scams where you give your bank details over at first!
“But after I contacted Joanne and spoke to her, it quickly became clear that this was real and I am eternally grateful for the kind gift.
“Mabel must have been a lovely lady who always had fond memories of Stalybridge.”
Joanne said: “Clive has worked hard to put this project together. His enthusiasm has rubbed off on me.
“I had never been to Stalybridge but suddenly his enthusiasm made me want to get involved in the procurement of the project.
“Mabel was a lovely lady who was keen to give back something to the town that she had such fond memories of as a child.
“Now the people and children of Stalybridge can enjoy something that Mabel in life would have loved.”