Community & Charity

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School skills boost thanks to new partnership with Cod Army Chairman

Fylde coast entrepreneur and Chairman of Fleetwood Town Football Club, Andy Pilley, has pledged his support for local special school, Highfurlong, through the launch of an exciting new partnership. 

After seeing the staff and students of Highfurlong in action during a recent visit to the school, Andy spotted the opportunity for his various businesses to help out in a number of ways, such as providing the unique chance for students to boost their knowledge and employability skills.   

Andy and his team will also be providing bespoke sport and fitness sessions at the club’s state of the art training and community facility, Poolfoot Farm, plus offering support with design and marketing of the Highfurlong gift shop and other fundraising activities.   

Highfurlong School, which is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, delivers education and care to children and young people with a wide range of physical, medical and neurological conditions aged between two and 19 years old. 

Andy wanted to not only provide students with fun experiences, but also the chance to learn key skills they can transfer to the workplace, which is crucial especially as they reach the end of their school careers.   

They will have the opportunity to experience the world of work through placements at Poolfoot Farm and BES Utilities, and members of staff from a range of departments at BES have already shown a keen interest in delivering careers talks at the school. 

Students will also be able to take part in workshops during their enterprise class, such as logo design with the Marketing Team at Card Saver, where they can get their creative thinking caps on and contribute to the design of a new logo for their on-site shop, The Gift Box. 

In addition, the whole school will be invited to take part in an exciting competition to raise awareness of energy efficiency. 

“I was hugely impressed by the facilities at Highfurlong, but what struck me most of all was the warm welcome we received from the students and staff,” said Andy. 

“I’m delighted to launch our partnership, which will enable my various businesses, including the football club, to get involved and support this fantastic school and the amazing pupils.  I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone more over the coming months.”    

Neill Oldham, Headteacher of Highfurlong, said: 

“We are really excited to welcome Andy and his team, and have genuinely been blown away with all the opportunities they are able to offer our pupils. 

“It has been our pleasure to welcome key members of Andy’s team into the school and to receive their positive input. This collaboration has opened the door to many new opportunities for our learners, including a brand new football team kit for our newly formed team, the use of the amazing facilities at Poolfoot and at Highbury, and most importantly the access to a wide range of work experience activities.” 

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Cod Army Chairman backs Conservative campaign

Chairman of Fleetwood Town Football Club, Andy Pilley, has thrown his support behind the Conservative Party in the upcoming general election, as he welcomed the Tory candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Louise Thistlethwaite, to Highbury stadium.   

Andy, who owns Fleetwood-based energy supplier and the Cod Army’s main club sponsor, BES Utilities, took the decision to voice his support for the Conservatives due to his concerns over Labour’s plans for the energy market, should they take control following the December election. 

Louise was treated to a tour of Fleetwood Town’s state-of-the-art training and community facility, Poolfoot Farm, followed by a visit to Highbury Stadium, which is also home to BES’ headquarters. 

Taking time to meet with Andy and key individuals from his team, Louise was keen to learn more about the companies and the vital role they fulfil by providing employment to over 900 people, as well as local community investment.    

“It was great to welcome Louise to BES and the football club and I’m confident she went away with a flavour of how crucial we are to the town of Fleetwood and the wider Fylde coast region,” said Andy.

“Since the demise of the fishing trade, the local area has suffered from a range of social and economic problems. We are hugely proud of the part we have played in re-building Fleetwood’s fortunes, both by providing people with real career opportunities and also investing massively in Fleetwood Town Football Club and its community facility, giving the people of Fleetwood something to be proud of and improving health and wellbeing through sport. 

“I can’t stress enough how concerned we are about the impact Labour’s policies would have on our business, and I don’t think it’s going too far to say the closure of BES would become a very real prospect – meaning the football club would also be likely to lose its Football League status, resulting in a further significant loss of jobs.”

“We wish Louise every success with her election campaign, and we look forward to welcoming her back to Fleetwood Town very soon.”

Louise, who was recently selected as candidate for the Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency, said:

“BES Utilities is one of the largest employers in Fleetwood and is vital to the local economy as well as the community. It was so uplifting to hear about their dedication to helping the local community and their commitment to corporate social responsibility.

“Poolfoot Farm is an awe-inspiring facility with such a community feel to it. It’s a fantastic asset to the local area, and there is so much going on that everyone can get involved in.” 

“I also enjoyed my visit to Highbury Stadium, the home of Fleetwood Town Football Club and BES Utilities, which together play a pivotal role in the community, both in terms of employment, boosting the economy and in bringing the feel-good factor back to Fleetwood.”

“As a conservative party candidate, I’m so inspired to support the business community, and in return, they’re choosing to support us.

“Businesses drive the economy, and Andy is such an inspiring businessman as he knows exactly what the community needs. I feel so honoured that he’s supporting me and backing my campaign. Let’s get Brexit out of the way so we can see some of the incredible work that Andy, and other local businesses, are doing.”

Louise is already planning to get involved in a number of community activities, including the forthcoming Love Fleetwood meeting which will be held at Fleetwood Town Football Club on Thursday 14th November at 7pm.

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Join Fleetwood Town Community Trust in tackling the stigma of men’s mental health

On International Men’s Day next month, Fleetwood Town Community Trust will gather the local community and celebrate local men at an event which will be held at the Sea Cadet Base from 11am until 3pm.

International Men’s Day is celebrated on 19th November each year by over 70 countries, and focuses on raising awareness of discrimination and men’s health.

The event, which is sponsored by Fleetwood-based charity Men’s Shed, will showcase services on offer to men and women in the town with representatives from a number of charities and community groups including Healthier Fleetwood, Trinity Hospice, Lancashire Mind, Prince’s Trust, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and more.

The event will be opened at 11am by Fleetwood Town Chairman and local business owner Andy Pilley, and there will be guest speakers including local boxer Brian Rose (12pm), Men’s Shed founder Tony O’Neill (1pm), and Dave McPartlin, Headteacher at Flakefleet Primary School (2pm).

John Hartley, Community Sports Development Officer at the Community Trust, has played a pivotal role in organising the event, after Stuart Macrae, who is from the local area, approached him with the idea.

“I joined forces with Stuart to organise this International Men’s Day event to bring the community together and give residents the opportunity to find out about local organisations and networks they can look to for support.

“As well as celebrating men who have a positive impact on the town, it’s the perfect chance to meet new people.  By opening up and sharing experiences, we can help tackle social isolation and improve mental health across the town.”

In the lead up to the event, we would like to encourage everyone to nominate the male they think has created the greatest impact on the local community over the last year. The person with the most votes will be presented with a certificate during the event. Click here to cast your vote.

Tony O’Neill, Founder of Men’s Shed, said:

“This event is about bringing Fleetwood together as a community, and respecting the fact that men have feelings too. So many men bottle things up as there’s still a stigma surrounding men opening up and talking about how they feel, and this shouldn’t be the case.

“This is the perfect event to show men that there are others in the same boat as them. We want to nullify the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, and let them know it’s ok to ask for help.”

Men’s Shed is a charity offering peer support, help, advice and friendship to members. It provides people with a place to share their experiences and helps them open up emotionally, making a real difference to the lives of local residents.

Refreshments will be served throughout the event, and everyone who attends will receive a goody bag. Free car parking will also be available opposite the venue, on Rossall Point car park.

We hope to see you all there on Tuesday 19th November at the Sea Cadet Base, 140 Beach Road, Fleetwood, FY7 8PQ.

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Huge reduction in park’s anti-social behaviour thanks to Fleetwood Town

Fleetwood Town has led the transformation of East Pines Park, creating a hub for young people and reducing reports of anti-social behaviour by over 70%.

The football pitch at East Pines Park in Anchorsholme was in desperate need of a revamp, and having fond memories of the park from his childhood, Fleetwood Town Chairman Andy Pilley stepped in to help.

For the last 12 months, the grounds team from Fleetwood Town have been maintaining the pitch to ensure it’s always in tip top condition for a range of group sessions from youngsters to the older players.

Thanks to a recent grant from the Lancashire Police, the park has been able to acquire its very own qualified coaches, Paul Wilshaw and Dale Casser, who have developed programmes for FC East Pines 7-11 and 11-16 age groups.

The programmes are designed to teach young people about a range of topics including respect, bullying and anti-social behaviour, as well as helping them transition from primary to secondary school.

In the future, they want to create programmes which will teach young people business management skills, helping boost their employability and equipping them for the world of work.

Cllr Paul Galley and Cllr Tony Williams, who both represent Anchorsholme ward, are real advocates for the partnership between Fleetwood Town and East Pines Park.

“People have really started to believe in us, and I believe that’s thanks to the strong ties we now have with Fleetwood Town,” said Paul.

“The grounds team and Chairman regularly visit and have become a part of our East Pines family.

“The Club kindly donated a line machine, and after teaching us how to use it, members of our community with special needs now mark the pitches, and it’s something they love doing.

“The football teams are going from strength to strength and every Friday we have around 50 young people turning up to play, which I strongly believe has helped reduce anti-social behaviour in the area, as they now have something to focus on.

“Last year over summer, there were 28 reports of anti-social behaviour, and this year there was just eight, which is amazing. It goes to show that what we’re doing is having a huge impact. We couldn’t have achieved this without the generosity and support from Fleetwood Town, and for that, I am so grateful.”

Next year, Paul has plans to take over Anchorsholme Park where he hopes to recreate the success he’s had at East Pines.

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BES supports local charity through food bank donations

In their latest initiative to help the community, employees at BES Utilities will be providing food bank donations to Fleetwood-based charity, The Mustard Seed Group.

BES Utilities is committed to supporting worthy causes, and they will be joining forces with Fleetwood Town Community Trust to provide monthly donations to the charity.

Employees have been invited to leave items in a purpose-built collection box, which will be collected on the last working day of each month.

Joel Chapman, Head of Communications at BES said, “Our employees are incredibly generous and love doing their bit for worthy causes, especially ones close to home.  We are delighted to team up with the Mustard Seed Group here in Fleetwood and we’re looking forward to finding out more about how our donations are supporting the local community.”

The Mustard Seed Group is an outreach charity for those who are lonely, vulnerable, in crisis or people experiencing short term difficulties and complications to their lives. They hold a weekly session where they offer hot meals and a place for people to relax and meet others in a safe environment.

The Mustard Seed Group is an outreach charity for those who are lonely, vulnerable, in crisis or people experiencing short term difficulties and complications to their lives. They hold a weekly session where they offer hot meals and a place for people to relax and meet others in a safe environment.

“Receiving support from BES Utilities means a great deal to our charity,” said Hilary Craig, one of The Mustard Seed Group Managers. “We help people in crisis with food, household goods, and bedding, and we never turn anyone away empty handed. We provide hot meals to those in need, and it’s all prepped and served by volunteers. We rely heavily on donations of food and we’re really grateful to BES Utilities for choosing to help us.”

The charity meets on a Monday night at 6pm at St Peters Church, Lord Street, Fleetwood. Click here to find out more.

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BES Utilities and Card Saver pledge £20,000 to help tackle bullying in schools

Card Saver and BES Utilities have today donated £20,000 to support a training programme aimed at tackling bullying in schools.

The Fylde coast-based companies – set up and led by entrepreneur Andy Pilley and his sister Michelle Davidson – have joined forces with Human Behaviour Trainer and Success Coach Norry Ascroft to enable the roll-out of his MADD About Bullying programme to 200 schools across the North West.

This is the second time Andy, who is also chairman of Fleetwood Town Football Club, has pledged a five-figure sum to support Norry’s ground-breaking anti-bullying work.

Earlier this year League One Fleetwood Town gave £10,000 to MADD About Bullying – which stands for ‘Making A Direct Difference’.

The programme, which is presented through a series of engaging video modules, explores the foundation of human behaviour and investigates strategies to tackle negative actions which can lead to bullying.

Fleetwood-based commercial energy supplier BES Utilities and Blackpool-based payment solutions company Card Saver have both donated £10,000 to support the roll-out.

Norry said: “Andy’s generous support is truly wonderful and I can’t thank him and his teams at BES Utilities, Card Saver and Fleetwood Town enough.

“MADD About Bullying is designed to assist teachers, parents and students and make a real and direct difference by addressing behaviour which can lead to bullying.

“Andy’s first donation enabled us to roll-out the programme to 100 schools. This additional £20,000 from Andy and his companies will enable us to reach another 200 North West schools. This fantastic support will make a real difference.”

The MADD About Bullying training programme is funded entirely through sponsors so it can be delivered to schools free of charge.

Andy said: “Norry’s an inspirational person who is so passionate about tackling the serious and complex issue of bullying in schools.

“We are delighted to be able to follow up the earlier backing from Fleetwood Town with additional financial support from BES Utilities and Card Saver.

“We are proud to be sponsors of a programme which could make a real difference for schools and young people.”

Norry set out to help teachers, parents and children after reading about a teenage girl who had committed suicide due to cyber bullying.

Explaining how MADD About Bullying works, Norry added: “Training teachers, parents and children about the behaviour weaknesses that drive bullying is the only way we are going to make a real difference.

“We have received some amazing feedback from schools already using the training programme and getting real benefits from the modules.

“This is something we want to roll out across the UK. Through the support of Andy and our other sponsors, it’s a dream that can become a reality.”

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BES Utilities pledges support for The Samaritans ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign

BES Utilities is backing a campaign to help raise funds for a vital community support service. 
 

The commercial energy supplier has pledged its support to The Samaritans ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign which was launched to help meet the charity’s day-to-day running costs. 

The Samaritans’ Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre branch deals with more than 2,000 calls a month from people who require emotional support or are in distress. 
 

Although the branch has a dedicated group of 70-plus volunteers the charity relies solely on donations from the public to pay its £147 a day running costs. 

BES Utilities, which is owned by Fleetwood entrepreneur Andy Pilley, has pledged its support to ‘Pay for a Day’ after the campaign was brought to its attention by the company’s Learning and Development Trainer Alex Dodd, who is a Samaritans volunteer in her spare time. 
 

Alex said: “The work The Samaritans does is so vital, they help so many people at times of real hardship and distress. 
 

“Every day the Fylde coast branch answers, on average, 80 phone calls, emails and text messages, and is there for anyone who calls or visits for a face-to-face chat.   
 

“It really is a lifeline for so many people and I’m so delighted and proud BES Utilities is supporting such a fantastic charity in this way.”     
 

The Samaritans’ Fylde coast branch, situated on Edward Street, Blackpool, was set up in 1978 and operates 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year. 
 

Branch director Angie Pascoe said she was delighted local companies like BES Utilities were supporting the ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign.  

Angie said: “At the heart of The Samaritans are our volunteers who do such amazing, selfless work. But like any charity we need funds to pay for basic things like lighting, heating, phones and rent. 

“It costs £147 to run and maintain our branch and shop each day, which includes training for all our volunteers and paying for our Freecall phone service 116 123. 

“As a charity we rely solely on the generosity of the public. Local businesses often ask us how they can help and getting involved with ‘Pay for a Day’ is perfect. 

“Im really delighted BES Utilities has decided to sponsor the branch. It means a lot and helps our volunteers to continue to provide such a vital service.” 

If you would like to get involved with ‘Pay for a Day’ or get more information about the work of The Samaritans please email blackpool.fundraising@samaritans.org 

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Cod Army pitches in to transform park for footballers young and old

A once forlorn football pitch is bringing players of all ages together thanks to a stunning transformation led by Fleetwood Town.

The pitch in East Pines Park, Anchorsholme, was in a rather sorry state until the Cod Army’s grounds team got involved.

Town chairman Andy Pilley – who grew up nearby – pledged to help revamp the facilities after he was approached by the Friends of East Pines Park.

Now, following extensive improvement work, which includes drainage and a new marked-out playing surface and goals, the pitch plays host to a variety of community football sessions for youngsters. There are also weekly walking football sessions for older players.

And the new facilities have already been credited with reducing instances of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Visiting the park to see the stunning transformation for himself, Andy said: “I grew up near the park and know it very well. It’s an important open space for local residents that sadly, until the Friends group got involved, was in a rather sorry state.

“I’m delighted that as a local lad I’ve been able to assist the great work the Friends group does. The pitch now looks fantastic – I’d hazard a guess it’s probably the best park pitch on the Fylde coast!

“What is great to see is that since the work was carried out so many groups are now using the pitch. The club is committed to helping with its upkeep and we hope this is the start of something really special for Anchorsholme residents young and old.”

(3) Anchorsholme youngsters check out the new pitch at East Pines Park.JPG

Together with the help of Fleetwood Town, the Friends group– which is made up of a dedicated band of volunteers and local councillors – has secured grants from Sport England and the Lancashire Crime Commissioner.

This has enabled the creation of coaching sessions for under-11 to under-16 age ranges. The sessions, run by Sport Blackpool in association with coaches from Blackpool and The Fylde College, involve around 50 youngsters.

Cllr Paul Galley, who represents Anchorsholme ward, said: “Andy and Fleetwood Town have been amazing. With their support we have been able to create a truly wonderful playing surface. It has proper drainage, is correctly marked out, goals, nets, corner flags and is something the whole community is rightly proud of.

“The impact of the pitch and coaching sessions, together with our message of respect for the park, respect for other residents and respect for the local community, has helped reduce anti-social behaviour in the park massively.

“Our next step is to create several East Pines Park five-a-side teams that can play in the leagues at Fleetwood Town’s Poolfoot Farm training complex. Again, Andy has generously agreed to help us on that journey.

“Through Andy and Fleetwood Town’s support and guidance, we are creating an amazing footballing and sports legacy which will positively shape the lives of people of our young people for a generation to come.”

Since 2015, the Friends of East Pines Park has secured funding and raised money allowing them to install £45,000 of new play equipment, erect £28,000 of new railings, plant more than 4,000 plants and open a café at Anchorsholme Library. In 2018 the park was named ‘Best Park in Blackpool’ in the Blackpool In Bloom awards.

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Cod Army chairman helps youngsters get on the ball with their very own pitch

Football-mad youngsters living at a Salvation Army Lifehouse have now got their very own pitch to play on thanks to Fleetwood Town Football Club chairman Andy Pilley.

The Cod Army was approached by the charity with a view to donating footballs to assist young residents living in temporary supported accommodation, George Williams House. 

However, Andy was so moved by the fantastic work done by The Salvation Army he arranged for the club’s grounds staff to visit George Williams House in Fleetwood which offers support and services to young people and families facing homelessness.

The Highbury team cleared an overgrown garden area and created a football pitch for residents to use. Fleetwood Town’s Community Trust also donated goals, nets and footballs. 

James Scott, Salvation Army Support Worker, said: “We can’t thank Andy and the team at Fleetwood Town enough for their hard work and generosity in getting our garden back into use.

“Since the work they’ve carried out our younger residents have been playing football every evening after school and all day at the weekend.

“It’s a much-needed resource and this was a very generous gesture from Fleetwood Town FC. This offers the children a valuable chance to meet other young residents in a safe environment allowing them to have fun in a healthy way.”

Andy Pilley said: “Fleetwood Town is a real community club and when I heard about the great work The Salvation Army does in Fleetwood I was only too happy to help.

“Our grounds staff not only do brilliant work at Highbury, and our Poolfoot Farm training base, but in the community through our Community Trust.

“It is wonderful to see the transformation of the garden area at George Williams House and we hope the young people living there have many happy hours playing football with their friends and family.”

As well receiving temporary accommodation, residents at George Williams House are helped with gaining access to GPs, mental health support services and assistance with any health issues they may face.

This can include accessing help from agencies who work with people struggling with addiction issues.

Staff also offer support with money management when residents move on to their new home as well as tenancy training to ensure they sustain their new accommodation.

For more details about Fleetwood Town Community Trust’s work in the community go to www.fleetwoodtownfcct.com and for information about The Salvation Army go to www.salvationarmy.org.uk

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Jamie’s Story Inspires Cod Army To Back England’s Young Amputee Footballers

The inspirational story of a young footballer born with only one foot has led to Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley backing England’s next generation of amputee players.

Jamie Oakey was born prematurely and weighing only 2lb 4oz after his mum Elaine was involved in a serious accident.

Fast forward 15 years and the Blackpool teenager has been named in the England Amputee FA’s Under-23 squad.

Jamie – who was born without a right foot and a short right leg – is also part of a group of junior players hoping to take part in an international training camp in Hoffenheim, Germany, in July.

To get there the young amputees and their families need raise £5,000 and so Jamie’s mum approached Fleetwood Town.

Chairman Andy Pilley was so moved by Jamie’s story he has not only offered financial support for the Germany training camp but is giving the England squad free use of the Cod Army’s state-of-the-art £9m Poolfoot Farm training base whenever they need it.

Andy said: “Jamie’s story is truly inspirational. When I heard about him and his team-mates, and then meeting his mum Elaine, I knew I just had to help.

“He is a local lad who has already achieved so much and so anything we can do to help him and his team-mates we’ll do it.

“I’m delighted to offer financial support for the Germany trip in July, but more importantly for me is to offer the England squad free use of our wonderful facilities here at Poolfoot anytime they need them.

“It was a privilege for me to meet Jamie and his mum and I wish the lads every success out in Germany. We cannot wait to welcome them here to Poolfoot in the future.”

As well as being part of the national squad Jamie is the youngest player ever selected to represent Everton FC in a Champions League match.

Proud mum Elaine said: “All these boys are totally amazing, inspirational superhumans who have overcome so much to be able to play the sport they love.

“The lads are amputees for various reasons, whether it be a birth defect, cancer or serious accident. They are truly remarkable, and nothing holds these kids back. However, due to funding limitations, players’ families need to raise money to meet travel and kit costs.

“I can’t thank Andy Pilley enough for his support. The donation for the Germany trip, which is a great opportunity for these young lads, together with the offer of the use of Fleetwood’s training ground, really means a lot – thank you Fleetwood Town!”

All national squads are supported by the England Amputee Football Association (EAFA), a registered charity, and the annual European training camp is co-ordinated by the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF).

EAFA Chairman Steve Johnson said: “This is a fantastic social interaction opportunity for young amputees involved in our organisation to travel to Germany and meet other young amputees from various countries around Europe.

“I would like to thank Andy Pilley for his really generous donation towards this training camp to enable the young amputees to attend.”

The young amputee squad will also get to see Fleetwood Town in action as they have been invited to the Cod Army’s home game against Gillingham on March 2 – the club’s Junior Football Day which celebrates young grassroots players.

If you would like more information or to support the England Amputee Football Association visit www.theeafa.co.uk

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