Schoolchildren invited to come up with design ideas for 'friendship' bench on walkway popular with Burnley and Padiham families

A community champion has raised almost £3,000 for a 'friendship' bench on a walkway popular with Burnley and Padiham famillies.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 12:30 pm

And Vivien Storey has invited children from the four primary schools in Padiham for their design ideas for the bench, which will be a placed on the Padiham Greenway as a place of retreat for people or if they need to speak to someone.

Viv said: "Hopefully we will get some ideas from them for the design of the bench and also it will involve a lesson in getting the children to talk about their feelings.

"The friendship bench is so important to me and I truly hope it will be there for people of all ages and hopefuly it will help many people, not just this year, but forever."

Champion fundraiser Viv (left) with her pal Katie Bourgaise when they launched Hugs for Free

Viv has already had a meeting to discuss the bench Burnley Council which has offered to install the bench for free.

A design has been drawn up and the bench will feature arms coming from the back as though the person sat down is being hugged.

This couldn't be more fitting for Viv who launched Hugs for Free in 2019 to cheer people up.

The project stemmed from Viv's successful launch of the Padiham Community Choir to reach out to people who were feeling isolated due to circumstances or lack of cash.

Viv became the pride of Padiham in December when she completed a 32 mile walk, non stop, for 11 hours and five minutes to raise £1,109,a fantastic amount but way short of the £3,000 needed for the bench.

So Viv launched a raffle to help boost the fund and she has been inundated with over 50 prizes including bottles of champagne, perfume, gift sets, vouchers and cakes. She is also running a football card and the total raised now stands at just over £2,700.

Viv said: "I have been blown away by the amazing support from eveyone, I am so grateful, the community has really rallied to help."

The pandemic may have brought an abrupt end to both the choir and the hugs scheme but Viv, who works as a carer at Woodside Home for the Elderly in Padiham, is not a woman to be kept down and she was determined to reach out to people who may be struggling as lockdown tightens.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the friendship bench fund is asked to click HERE.