With the days getting longer and good weather on the horizon, Fairhaven Lake is getting ready for a fantastic season – and Fylde Council invite you to meet the team dedicated to making Fairhaven Lake and Gardens the best it can be!

Cllr Gavin Harrison, Deputy Chair of the Tourism & Leisure Committee, said:

“You can’t have a great service without great people, and Fylde Council are immensely proud of the talented team we have assembled at Fairhaven. It’s our pleasure to introduce them to our residents and visitors, so please read on as they tell us a little about themselves and what they love most about Fairhaven.”

Members of the Fairhaven Team, from left to right: Darren Mooney, Nick Skiba, Julie Vale, and Jay Walmsley
Members of the Fairhaven Team, from left to right: Darren Mooney, Nick Skiba, Julie Vale, and Jay Walmsley

The Fairhaven Lake and Gardens date back to the 1890s, when they were first established by the Fairhaven Estates Company. The landing stage and pagoda-style boathouse followed over the next few years before the lake and grounds were purchased and presented to the Corporation of Lytham St Annes in 1926, and over the years have become host to regular events such as the Fairhaven Regatta, as well as numerous clubs and societies.

Long a point of pride for the local community and an attraction for visitors, the Fairhaven Lake and Gardens still had yet more untapped potential. This began to be fully realised when Fylde Council received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and Big Lottery Fund to launch an exciting and ambitious programme of redevelopment, enhancing the buildings, landscape, lake, and activity offering. Alongside a new staffing structure providing the lake with a dedicated on-site team of experts, Fairhaven is poised to enjoy a bright future as the project nears completion. Fairhaven Lake Manager Nick Skiba leads the team:

“Fairhaven is an entirely unique place and offers a totally different experience for the public, with the traditional feel of our water-based activities and events alongside fresh and exciting attractions such as our Adventure Golf and new Water Sports Centre. Fundamentally Fairhaven is a public park, and we keep this at the heart of all we do – at Fairhaven there really is something for everyone.

“I was lucky enough to join the Fairhaven Team mid-season in 2021. This was a great time to join as I was able to see events up and running and give input into the completion of the many wonderful NLHF projects. Parks and open spaces have been a crucial part of life over the last couple of years and their importance to the local community is more evident than ever. I am extremely proud of my team for what has already been achieved, and for all we have to look forward to.”

Many local groups and organisations enjoy the use of the lake and its grounds, from the model boat club and river cruising club to school trips and the dragon boat racers. Fairhaven Lake Communities and Activities Officer Julie Vale works with each of them to ensure that Fairhaven Lake continues to be available to all, arranging events to bring visitors in to enjoy the park to its fullest:

“I have been working at Fairhaven for 16 years, first at the RSPB centre and then as the Activity Development Officer for the restoration project. I was lucky to become a full-time member of the Fairhaven team in August 2021. My background is ecology, but I enjoy working with people too, so Fairhaven is perfect for my interests as it’s such an amazing place for wildlife and our visitors. My new role involves supporting the clubs and volunteers in their activity and delivering the parks events.

“I love event days where there is a buzz in the park with everyone getting involved and enjoying this special place. I’m looking forward to 2022 being full of exciting activity for Fairhaven bring the community and visitors back together. I am very proud of what we have achieved with the restoration project and look forward to building on those foundations for Fairhaven to go from strength to strength.”

A significant element of the restoration project has involved landscaping, with projects such as the uncovering and replanting of the former Japanese gardens requiring expertise and dedication. Head Gardener Darren Mooney has both the talent and experience to bring these projects to life:

“I am a second-generation gardener and I’ve been working professionally in horticulture for over 30 years, in both the hard and soft landscaping industries. For the last 21 years I worked for Wyre Council, where the gardening team and myself received the prestigious RHS Britain in Bloom Gold distinction and the RHS Heritage Award.

“This is the standard that I am really looking forward to bringing here to Fairhaven Lake for you all to enjoy, and the exciting projects planned here are what attracted me to the role of Fairhaven’s Head Gardener. There will be plenty of opportunities for the local community to get involved with the restoration of the garden’s including a community garden area, bulb planting events and much, much more. I hope to see you all at Fairhaven Lake soon.”

There’s also plenty for all to do out on the lake itself, from group and one-on-one sessions for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding to the motorboat hire service available April to October, all of which can be booked by emailing fairhavenbookings@fylde.gov.uk or by messaging the team via Facebook. Water Sports Coordinator Jay Walmsley runs classes for enthusiastic newcomers and experts alike:

“I’ve worked at a variety of different outdoor education centres in the UK, and Fairhaven is a perfect fit for me as I love being by the water, and it’s a lovely place to be in all seasons. The best thing about my day-to-day job is being able to work with a great team of people and teach people in the community, passing on my knowledge of all things water sports.

“I’ve enjoyed all the challenges of this role from the administration of the new facilities to understanding how things work in local government, and every day has been exciting – I’m keen to help our visitors and residents get involved with all the different courses and events we’re now able to offer with the new Water Sports Centre.”

The improvements to the lake and grounds have been made possible through the Fairhaven Lake and Garden Restoration project, supported through the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NHLF) and Big Lottery fund – and there are more exciting developments yet to come.  To keep up to date on the latest amenities and events at Fairhaven, visit the Events page at Discover Fylde and follow the official Fairhaven Lake and Gardens Facebook page.


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