Service to survive

A CAFE owner has vowed to continue an annual tradition if a park group folds.

Every December, a Christingle takes place in Ward Jackson Park to mark the beginning of Christmas.

The popular event sees dozens of residents and children take part in a service and enjoy carols while braving the wintry weather.

It has been organised by the Friends of Ward Jackson Park, but the future of the voluntary group is currently uncertain.

However, Maria Harrison, who runs the Place in the Park Cafe in the Victorian greenspace, says she will step in and organise the event if the Friends group does disband.

She said: “I can put the Christingle on, as it isn’t the biggest event but people love it.

“The cafe has become an important part of the event as well, particularly when there’s been bad weather, so it makes sense.

“I think it’s something that people would really miss if it wasn’t to happen.”

The Friends also hold annual Easter and summer fairs, but Maria says those events, which can attract up to 2,000 people, are too big for her to run alone.

She added: “They are very big and I would not be able to do it without a lot of support and volunteers.

“I would like to think these events will still happen one way or another, but the future is uncertain at the moment.”

The Hartlepool Mail reported how the Friends of Ward Jackson Park have been in discussions with the Park Residents’ Association about possibly merging or working together.

The move came after a number of volunteers left the Friends and chairman Rachel Wilson stood down from her position at the beginning of the year due to work commitments.

The group has also seen its annual funding cut from £5,000 to £2,000 due to the recession.

It is understood that no progress has been made in regards to the group’s future and the Friends, which has been around since 1998, is likely to give up its charity status.