The Old Parsonage Stenner Lane Didsbury Manchester M20 2RQ 0161 445 7661

Newsletter March 2021

A sad farewell to Our President Jim Leeming

It is with great sadness that we advise that Jim Leeming, the President of the DCS, has passed away peacefully at the home of his son Mike.  Jim served the DCS for many years, always giving a lovely opening speech at our public AGMs at the Old Parsonage.  He always had words of encouragement during the proceedings, usually from the right hand of the Chair.  Until recently he also attended the Planning and Licensing meetings. Jim will be sadly missed and when we get back to attending meetings, they will not be the same without him.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mike and his family at this time.

Mike Corlett, Chair DCS

A New Project!

In this newsletter the DCS has listed a number of ideas and projects that we’d like to hear from you about. One of our projects is wall art above the Costa Coffee terrace in Didsbury and we are delighted to say we have the permission of the landlord to carry this out.  It would be great to receive ideas from Members on the following themes for the wall art.

Broadly DCS wants to depict one of the following:

1) Green theme – birds, bees, butterflies, uplifting meadow scene – vibrant colourful scene

2) Abstract of school children, as the wall art will be on School Lane – again a vibrant colourful scene

3) Historical nature of Didsbury, abstract art of key buildings of historical interest – again vibrant colourful scene

Overhead will be the message: ‘Welcome to Didsbury Village’ or ‘Didsbury Village’   

Have you got any creative ideas on the above? Then email us at:

Mary Christie, Secretary to DCS

Membership Subscriptions for 2021 – A Big Thank You!

A big thank you to all those who paid their subscriptions by the end of January 2021. This helps enormously in planning the year`s finances, to keep DCS running, and also greatly assists the administration of the Membership list. We do not hear from a number of Members despite emails, letters and postcard reminders. We are currently auditing the Membership list and non-payment of subscriptions by the end of March at the very latest will result in deletion of these Member`s details. This currently excludes Life Members and those Members that have replied to emails already sent. This also excludes those who joined in late Autumn and have set up their bank transfers accordingly.

A gentle reminder too, please let us know if you change your email address and/or home address.

Fletcher Moss Park

Message from Friends of Fletcher Moss and Old Parsonage Gardens

The third Coronavirus lockdown has curtailed regular volunteer activities in the Park and Parsonage Gardens. However, dedicated people continue to venture forth with their own gardening equipment during their daily exercise to ensure that the gardens are ready for Spring. Despite the cold and wet weather there is still colour with winter iris, hellebores and snowdrops appearing. We eagerly await the flowering of the polyanthus in the lower bed of the Parsonage Garden and the bulb lawn in the park. (As well as the roll out of the Covid vaccine to all adults!!).

Whilst the Parsonage Garden has largely survived the increase in visitor numbers undamaged, the same cannot be said of Fletcher Moss Park. Grassed areas near the café and to the side of pathways have become seas of mud after increased footfall and visitors attempting to socially distance. Children have found climbing in the rockery to be great fun, but they have damaged plants.

Whilst such damage is a problem in parks and walking areas around the country, Officers from Manchester City Council and The Friends of Fletcher Moss Park and Parsonage Gardens will be considering ways in which the park can recover in the Spring. We would caution people who visit to do all they can to avoid walking where grass once grew and not let their children or grandchildren climb in the rockery. We suggest wearing wellies and using designated footpaths only. Please take children into Stenner Woods for climbing activities.

DCS ideas for projects

A list of the DCS priotiy projects in the local area are listed below. Projects marked with a red asterisk *are being pursued by DCS Trustees for funding. If there’s any way you can support these projects – please let us know at:

1. The cleaning of Didsbury Library building*

2. The cleaning and repair of the Cenotaph and the Milson Rhodes clock tower*

We are pursuing sources of funding to ensure cleaning of the cenotaph as a priority for 2021.

3.  A new DCS wall art on the Costa Coffee Agreed by the Landlord. A DCS Trustee is   contacting Costa Coffee NW Director too. A panel is being devised to take this project forward.

4. The provision/repair one wooden bench for bus waiters close to 328 Fog Lane and the provision of a bus shelter bus stop (Johnnie Johnson flats, Fog Lane). Quote has been obtained for repair of this bench. DCS finding out who owns this bench. We are “fingers crossed” ensuring renovation soon!

5. A new additional DCS noticeboard in the Jubilee Gardens area of Didsbury Centre* Ordered and will be installed soon!

6. The repair of the iron veranda over shops near the East Didsbury railway station.

7. Installation, of lamp post flame cut style flag banners with “Keep Didsbury Clean” and “Welcome to Didsbury” etc.

8. HODs initiative to create an online virtual tour of the buildings*

9. Water butt/tap/electric socket from Didsbury Library for use by DIB volunteers* Proceeding! Separately awaiting information from MCC about the water butt.

10. Ideas for Tesco/Kingsway triangle green space.

11. Ideas for the public toilets at Barlow Moor Road, including a franchise funded facility.

12. Installation of a Defibrillator for a 24/7/365 service Quotes received late 2020 and is being discussed by the DCS Trustees

13. Provision of Didsbury Public Toilet facility*

14. Provision of additional disabled access parking facilities (Wilmslow Road) * DCS Trustees have recently walked Wilmslow Road with Councillors which highlighted that  Traffic regulation orders in some areas are out of date/incorrect

Lapwing Lane Bench in need of repair

Articles from our Members

Every quarter we hear from local people about matters they care about, issues they want to engage you on, and articles that provide an insight into something going on in our local area

Plans announced for statue of RSPB founder Emily Williamson

Emily Williamson founded what became the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1889. She was working from her home at The Croft at the time. Fast forward to 2021 and the ground floor of the house is now the very popular Alpine Tea Rooms in Fletcher Moss Park.

Now Civic Society Life Member Andrew Simcock is leading a campaign to create a statue of Emily. This follows on from his successful Our Emmeline project which culminated in the 2018 unveiling of the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in St Peter’s Square. The RSPB is funding the initial design competition.  Twenty three sculptors from Tuscany to New York, Glasgow to Brighton, and one in Didsbury, expressed an interest in the project.

From these a longlist of twelve were selected. Over 6,000 people then voted for their four favourite designs that they wanted to see progress to the shortlist.

The four shortlisted sculptors are Billie Bond, Clare Abbatt, Eve Shepherd and Laury Dizengremel.

For more detail on their designs go to

Chair of The Friends of Fletcher Moss Park, Alan Hill, has now visited all five potential sites in the park where the statue could be sited. Given the flooding issues in the lower sections the statue would be based somewhere in the upper level of the park. To see the locations and vote for your favourite go to

The shortlisted designs will be announced at a major event in the summer timed to coincide with the centenary of the 1921 Plumage Act. The statue itself is scheduled to be unveiled on 17th April 2023; Emily’s 168th birthday. For more detail on any aspect of the statue project please contact Andrew on

Photo of Emily Williamson

Some of the designs
Alan Hill stands at the proposed location

The Road to Freedom!

It’s fair to say that Covid-19 has provided a shock around the globe. In Western Europe and North America, we’ve had the benefit of the science and everything else that goes with it. What we haven’t had is good leadership but who could honestly say it could have been done differently, we simply don’t know. The good news is the vaccines seem to be working and no doubt further developments will ensue; the treatment of Covid-19 is improving as the medics learn more but what we don’t know is what will happen when we get to the end of this particular stretch of road as prescribed in the Prime Minister’s roadmap.

We seem to be being nudged in the direction of ‘accepting’ the overall Covid-19 situation as a risk that we’ll always have. When we were told ‘no more lockdowns’ Future Didsbury reads that as ‘you’ll have to learn to live with it’.  Whether or not this interpretation is accurate remains to be seen, however, there is good reason to assume we need to be out there as soon as possible supporting our local trades people and the organisations that hold our community together. ‘Community’ has been an essential part of the Covid-19 landscape. Time and time again the willingness of traders and volunteers comes to the fore. Future Didsbury believes that one element of the way forward is adding more emphasis to our community groups and societies but the other part of the equation equates to the local elections which are due to be dropped on us fairly soon, Thursday 6th May! 

The political landscape is changing as much as Covid-19 in the sense of politicians becoming more and more tested and questioned in the face of global corporations flexing their muscles, eg, Australia v Facebook.  In this single party dominated Manchester insufficient room is left for alternative points of view which implies we are stranded amongst politicos who don’t need to deliver. We would assert that Didsbury residents would like equal consideration of investment funding as other city council wards.

So, feel free to ask the question, what is the councils plan for improving Didsbury, and will the council adopt The Future Didsbury proposal? Phil Downs MBE

The VINE Project

Helping Vulnerable Children In Need of Education

12 years ago, with a small group of volunteers, I set up the Vine Project to support children in an AIDS-ravaged South African township. I first went to South Africa as a teenager in the ‘60s, and have been many times since, but following a number of meetings and coincidences I found myself in 2002 sitting in KwaZulu, Natal with a group of Grandmothers living in dire circumstances, trying to work out how I could help them. They were inheriting their orphaned grandchildren (up to 11) having lost their own children to AIDS. I had just retired and this was my opportunity to put something back into the country that I had come to love.

We first began by helping the grandmothers access grants, organised workshops and bought their Zulu jewellery to sell, giving them an income. In 2008, having made contact with the schools in the township, we were made aware of orphaned children hanging on the railings outside the schools, desperate to get in but without the means and support they need. That’s when Vine was born!!!

We still support the Grannies, but now, our emphasis is on education. It has not been easy. The children, often living alone or in sibling groups, need food, uniform and resource to enable them to get to school. They know that with the support we give them this is their big, if not their only, chance and they grab it with both hands.

At times it has been an uphill struggle. There are often issues dealing with very complicated bureaucracy, riddled with corruption and systems that don’t work. Also, there are some young people who struggle to cope with life outside the township when they go off to college or university. However, taking all this into consideration our project is a real success story. This year we have our 14th youngster at university doing a degree. Also 4 who graduated in very worthwhile subjects. We have a young man, Ntokozo, who dreamed of being a pilot and having got a degree in Geography and the Environment went on to get funding and get his pilot’s license. Another youngster. Msizi, is doing an internship as he finishes his degree in Electrical Engineering and hopes to set up his own company. These were young people who when we first met them were not even attending school properly.

As you can imagine the pandemic has had a big impact on the work we do. The talks we do and the outlets where we sell the Zulu jewellery have dried up.  We have not been able to visit for over a year and I can’t see us getting out in the near future. The needs of the children have changed. We have had to make sure all the university students have computers so that they can work remotely. The children need hand sanitisers and mobile phones so that the ones living remotely and who can’t come into school (they are closed) can keep in touch.

Nonkululeko a young lady who we have supported through school and university and now has a degree in Social Welfare is working for us. She knows first-hand how our project works and is looking after everything in the township in our absence.

Our hope has always been that the South Africans will start to look after their own. We have set up the model and shown that hard work and determination can pay off. The youngsters now know how to access the grants that they are entitled to and the older ones have learnt the importance of mentoring and supporting the younger ones. There are now youngsters who have a solid education and a chance to improve their hopes for the future. We have already made a big difference.

For more information visit our website or find us on Facebook.

Street graffiti – we need your help!

DCS has made contact with Openreach and Virgin Media to provide them both with a list of green cabinets that require cleaning and ridding of graffiti. Mike and Mary walked from Parrswood to Lapwing Lane photographing and numbering each box that requires cleaning. Having undertaken this exercise, we are now in a position to report graffiti incidences and share this information with Didsbury in Bloom (DiB), it is great to work on such issues collaboratively. Whilst we have asked Openreach to go through an area with certain postcodes provided, it would be most helpful if you could find a box near you and report it to Openreach or Virgin Media accordingly. Both companies like to receive a picture, any number on the box and also the address with postcode to identify location. Information below was sent by Openreach.

Nearby, the cabinet on the footway or carriageway will be a jointing box which will have 1, 2 or 3 lids, if the lid(s) are labelled BT, British Telecom, PO, PO Telephones or GPO (see below) then the cabinet is almost certainly an Openreach cabinet.

However, if the lids are labelled Cabletel, NTL, Telewest, Colt, CW etc. the cabinet is unlikely to be an Openreach cabinet.

Openreach cabinets if numbered will be either a 1, 2 or 3-digit number (i.e. – 3, 57 or 126), some may be number digit/digit (i.e. – 6/2).

Didsbury streets: our streets looking rundown – will the owners do the right thing? If there is one near you please report. Details below

Contact Openreach:  /   0800 023 2023    Contact Virgin Media:

A brief history of the 2/241st Manchester (St Catherine of Siena) Scout Group since 1988.

Since 1988, the numbers involved in St Catherine’s Scout Group have increased steadily when there were only 20 Cubs and 9 Scouts.  Walter Gallagher returned as Group Scout Leader until his death in 1994, whereupon Harold Thomas, an ex-Scout from St Catherine’s in the 1950s and a parent, took over from Walter for the next fifteen years. The Beaver Scout Colony opened for the first time at St Catherine’s in 1994 and has greatly helped to increase the numbers of children attending – the biggest change apart from Beavers was allowing girls to join. Girls had been allowed to join Venture Scouts in 1976 but the Scout movement only allowed girls into all sections from 1991 – St Catherine’s made the decision to go fully co-ed in 1997.

In the late 1990s, the Scout Association rearranged the ages and number of sections from 4 to 5 whilst totally revamping the uniform from the very unflattering mushroom brown adult uniform and obligatory beret to a much more modern navy-blue shorts/trousers and turquoise blue top for the Beavers, dark green top for the Cubs and shorts and dark green shirts for the Scouts. The leaders kept a much nicer shade of brown! At St Catherine’s now we have a strong Beaver Colony of over 30 children meeting on a Monday, 30 – 40 Cubs on a Wednesday and over 20 Scouts on a Tuesday (a big change for the Scouts who used to meet on Fridays). The total membership of the Group is consistently over 100 and makes us one of the largest in our area – the only way to grow from here is to open new Section.

The longest serving current leader in the Group is Shane Nolan, who finally stood down as Cub Scout Leader after 26 years to become Group Scout Leader at the end of 2016 – Shane has been in the Group since he became a Cub in 1979 and became an Assistant Cub Scout Leader in 1988. In 1997, Stephen Gallagher (Walter Gallagher’s son) stepped down as Scout Leader, and Tom Johnston took over – a role he continues to hold 21 years later. A chance conversation with Kathy Petty, whilst she was dropping off her son at Scouts led to Kathy taking over as Beaver Scout Leader in 2001, otherwise the section would have had to close due to lack of leaders – Kathy is still going strong 17 years later. Since 2016, the Cub Scout Pack has been led by Edwina Wilson-Salt, a leader in Stockport since 2006 and joined us in 2015. The last history mentioned a lack of leaders and whilst we currently have over 10 adults regularly involved in weekly meetings, however, we cannot ensure our future without new faces.

Away from the weekly meetings, our Scout Group has been supported by an Executive Committee of Mike Leeming, our Group Chair who took over from Paul Chidgey in 2010. Paul has been chair since Harold Thomas’s appointment as Group Scout Leader in 1994. Tim Royle took over as Group Treasurer from Anne Griffin in 1994 and even though his son has long left he continues to keep an eye on the purse strings to this day. Karen Bennett has been Group Secretary since 2010. We have been fortunate to have had the help of many parents over the years.

In 1993, our Scout Troop accompanied by Father McGarry, travelled to Rome to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first trip where our Papal flag was blessed by Pope John Paul II – although a very successful trip in many ways including two Papal audiences it was marred by the theft of the 60-year-old Papal Flag on the last day of the trip!

Since the trip to Rome our Group has been very fortunate to go to two World Scout Jamborees, the 18th in Holland in 1995 as participants and the 22nd in Sweden in 2011 as visitors. Overseas trips have also taken place at the International Scout Centre at Kandersteg in Switzerland and several visits to both Northern Ireland and the Republic – this shows the commitment of the leaders to give the many children attending the same outdoors experiences as envisioned by the Founder of the Movement, Robert Baden-Powell (Chief Scout) when the Scout movement was founded in 1907.

Although we have modernised in many ways, we are still proud of our heritage and long sponsorship by the Parish. Our new Parish Priest, Father Hitchen, has determined to allocate new storage under the church to help.  The children continue to be given every opportunity to develop as young people allowing them to make a positive contribution to society. The aim for them now is to gain their Chief Scout Award. Since the last history in 1988, over 400 children have been members of the Scout Group from the Parish of St Catherine’s, it is always good to hear of their successes in life and hopefully we have managed to contribute in some measure, they are always welcome to come back and join in.

GMP are engaging with local communities. Mike Corlett, Chair of DCS posed a few written questions to John Picton from GMP. Here is what he had to say…

Why do GMP not provide details of the actual clear up rate for crimes to accompany the rates and occurrences of crime?

I am currently in the processes of collating data regarding crimes, with the aim of producing figures on a regular basis. 

Why did GMP appear to condone the drug dealing activities which were taking place at the Ex- Limes property on Wilmslow Road Didsbury which appeared to be common knowledge. There was also an insulting banner displayed (ACAB) at which residents took discomfort at.

GMP does not condone drug dealing activities. Incidents are assessed on a threat, harm and risk basis. Our response to drug dealing is intelligence led. We gather information and intelligence. Whenever possible we take positive action, obtain warrants and conduct searches. I cannot elaborate on specific premises or individuals, however, if there is insufficient intelligence and evidence, a warrant will not be obtained. It is unlikely that pursuing a prosecution regarding the banner would have resulted in a conviction. This comment relates to The Limes squatter incidence.

Why does GMP allow the high levels of civil damage to take place in the form of graffiti. Especially when preparators leave their TAGs e.g. MACA which appears from Cheadle to Withington on street furniture.

Graffiti is obviously criminal damage, however, identifying the offenders is difficult unless they are caught in the act. I have limited resources and as I have stated, incidents are resourced according to threat, harm and risk. If intelligence is received regarding specific offenders committing the criminal damage, this can be followed up. I have not received any such information.

Are there still any PCSO`s in Didsbury. We appear to have gone from the ever present and well known PCSOs who used to patrol the Didsbury area to a situation of we have not seen a PCSO for several months?

There are still PCSO’s in Didsbury. GMP staff have been affected by COVID just the same as all members of the public. COVID illness and requirements for staff to isolate has at times reduced numbers of available PCSO’s to patrol. Those on duty have had to patrol larger areas. As we hopefully come out of the COVID situation, PCSO’s will be out and about as usual in their designated areas.

Why are GMP not Covid-19 active in Didsbury, visiting and marshalling the local parks and the Mersey Valley (especially with car drivers parking and manoeuvring in large numbers on Stenner Lane to walk the valley) which are already very overcrowded with walkers, runners, cyclists and dog owners, passing and re-passing on walks, cyclists passing in twos and threes, people congregating with takeaway coffee in hand. Including the overcrowding of the very confined children`s playgrounds.

GMP have been active regarding COVID 19. We have had both duty time and specific operational staff out and about engaging with the public and where necessary using enforcement measures, issuing penalty tickets and closing premises.

Will GMP take action against the use of electric scooters, around the public spaces of Didsbury at speeds well in excess of the stated 15mph (presumably rechipped/ remapped to go faster. Especially those riding two up, with no helmets, on public roads and pavements. Also using them in public parks probably without licenses or insurance etc.

Scooters are an ongoing problem and again enforcement is intelligence led. We have seized numerous scooters and will continue to do so.

If the police do police with public consent – why are the public not consulted on what they would actually like to be targeted?

Online Q & A sessions are a new way of liaising and consulting with the public. Hopefully we will continue to use this format and as we come out of the pandemic, we will return to attending public meetings.

When will GMP start to crack down on speeding drivers seriously exceeding the 20mph limit on the local Didsbury roads otherwise the whole exercise was a serious waste of money, changing bylaws, road markings and pavement signage. When issues have been raised with MCC we are told by them that its GMPs responsibility. There is also no clear reporting process for such matters.

We are aware of issues with speeding in and around the area. These areas form part of our daily patrol plans. We regularly conduct speeding initiatives including the use of speed guns in speeding hotspots. The community can really assist in relation to this issue too. Where vehicles are witnessed driving erratically or at speed please record registration details and forward the information on 101 or by email to the local neighborhood team, information can also be shared anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800555111 or

June Newsletter

The next DCS Newsletter will be issued at the end of June 2021. The deadline for articles is Friday 28th May 2021 and all articles will be reviewed by the editorial team prior to print. We want to hear your stories and interests. Please send details to

Didsbury Civic Society – Volunteers Needed!

With all of our work we need help. Volunteers are welcome for a wide area of interests, such as, local history, marketing and communications. If you are wanting to enhance your CV then we will give you the experience. Look at our website too for what we do and where you may want to help: