One Flintshire village is looking to a bright future as changes to local organisations brought on by the pandemic are starting to pay off across the area.
Hawarden has seen a wealth of interest across the village since restrictions lifted in August as local businesses enjoy a strong return of visitor footfall amidst new activities and service offerings.
One such site is Hawarden Estate, which utilised local suppliers to not only refurbish the estate’s farm shop and pub into a community-focused grocer during the pandemic, but also kick-start activities welcoming visitors back to the estate grounds.
It has also added a family-friendly campsite which has seen more than 90 per cent occupancy since opening.
Tom Cronk, group head of marketing at Hawarden Estate, said: “Fundamentally we would not survive if it weren’t for the local community; people saw our hard work during the pandemic and they paid it back in kind.
“The overnight change in the Glynne Arms, from pub to neighbourhood shop full of excellent produce from the estate and our suppliers, galvanised our customers and we remained a steady ship for our community which we are rather proud of.
“That gave us the confidence to hold event after event and it’s through these that we’ve seen encouraging signs of growth, with hundreds of people attending our weekly music nights and our ever-growing roster of activities, such as yoga and cooking masterclasses.”
Another location in Hawarden which has bounced back strong is Gladstone’s Library, with the site combining a swelling in local support with new projects which aim to expand its audience globally.
The library has made its historic building more accessible, with the site’s entrance, access corridors, and accommodation facilities redeveloped along with a further digitisation of its archives and referencing systems.
Programmes such as the ‘Writers in Residence’ scheme are also back up and running, with poet Isabel Galleymore due to hold a talk on post-humanism and an eco-poetry masterclass in November, with the library now able to livestream and accommodate in-person attendees.
Peter Francis, warden and director at Gladstone’s Library said: “Having been shut for the better part of 18 months, it has been incredible to see the library spring back to life, both in events and footfall from visitors keen to experience the changes we’ve made.
“We were blown away by the local community support during the pandemic and this has continued after our reopening; new volunteers have been willing to help with everything from book conservation to ensuring our grounds remained a key scenic spot within Hawarden.
“Without them, the library would be a very different place and our guests allow us to invest further, welcoming in more staff and adapting our services to meet modern demands and enhance visitor experiences.”
Councillor Ian Roberts, leader of Flintshire County Council, said: “The stories of Gladstone’s Library and Hawarden Estate are just two examples of the excellent work Flintshire businesses have carried out during the challenging period which has been the pandemic.
“Not only have these organisations been given some well-deserved backing from the local community, but they have developed new offerings which will help make Hawarden and the wider Flintshire area a hive of positive activity going forward.”
Flintshire County Council is asking businesses and community members to share their stories as to what has been achieved during the pandemic.
Locals are encouraged to share their stories by submitting them to either the Explore Flintshire Facebook (@exploreflintshire) or Instagram (@explore_flintshire) accounts.