How The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is continuing to unite a community in Leeds
Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee played a major role in bringing us back together following the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to National Lottery players Good Causes from across the UK were able to apply for a share of £22 million of National Lottery funding committed to the Platinum Jubilee across community, arts, sport and environmental initiatives to mark the milestone. Hundreds of grants were made to organisations the length and breadth of the UK, including to Friends of Skelton Grange in Leeds, which was awarded funding for its ‘Queen of Spades’ Platinum Jubilee project.
Skelton Grange started life as two coal-powered power stations which provided energy to the city and surrounding areas. Split into two sections Skelton Grange A and Skelton Grange B, the former site spanned 130 acres, and was demolished in 1994, leaving the remains as industrial land. In 1992, Friends of Skelton Grange was formed, and the Skelton Grange Environment Centre established.
As part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Friends of Skelton Grange was awarded funding for its ‘Queen of Spades’ project to develop an area of the site, formerly known as the “Lost World”. The development will focus on making the “Lost World” accessible to the public and enabling it’s use for educational activities. The community group is using National Lottery funding to put on seventy days of community activities between June 2022 and December 2023, including volunteering days, hands-on learning and play for children, and celebration events.
Over the course of the community action days, volunteers of all ages are undertaking conservation activities to clear shrubland, create paths, plant trees and meadows, install beehives and create wildlife habitats. The group is also aiming to engage with 1,000 adults and children, bringing them together to educate them about the natural world through hands-on learning, play and outdoor art.
“The National Lottery Platinum Jubilee funding felt like the perfect opportunity for us. Our aim is to bring people from all walks of the community together and this aligns with the values of the Platinum Jubilee, and the occasion offered the community a great opportunity to come together and celebrate,” Caroline Crossley, Committee Member for Friends of Skelton Grange, explains.
“It’s an area of Leeds where there’s not much green space, so we’ve created different wildlife habitats, and also spaces to be used by children and adults alike, with the aim of creating a sense of community belonging, but also improving mental health, conservation and much-needed positivity, skills and experiences for our local community. We’d like this project to mark a turning point after the past two years of the pandemic, enabling people to enjoy a shared purpose in caring for and learning from their local environment.”
As part of the project, Friends of Skelton Grange is planning to create a memento to Her Majesty The Queen. They have asked members of the community for ideas, which have included a wooden sculpture or doorway marking the anniversary. They have also created an online timeline, with photos over the past 70 years, to show visitors the before and after of the space they now enjoy and have invited people to share their own photos of the area’s history.
Hilary Benn, Member of Parliament for Leeds Central praised the work of the project and said “This is a great project which will get people involved to help create a new wildlife habitat at Skelton Grange. I wish it every success.”
Other projects that received a share of the Platinum Jubilee funding include sports games for people with acquired brain injuries in the west of England, horticultural support for veterans in Wales, skills sharing amongst generations in Scotland to reduce waste and pollution, and multicultural community events in south London.
Blondel Cluff CBE, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund and Chair of the UK Funding Committee, commented on the project: ““We have been proud to play a key role in this momentous Platinum Jubilee year. Thanks to National Lottery players, we have supported community groups across the UK to bring people together to build connections, purpose and pride. The projects we have funded will create positive change and will help provide a bedrock for their communities through these challenging times.”
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