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Councillor Beardmore personally speaking- Stoke-cation

Published: Tuesday, 21st July 2020

‘I will definitely be having my own Stoke-cation this summer’

As a mum of two lively and active boys, when the summer holidays roll around, I find myself planning in lots of activities to keep them entertained. Like many of you, my summer holiday this year has been cancelled, but I’m not worried that we’ll be short of things to see or do.

I’m extremely lucky to live in Stoke-on-Trent, we have some amazing, family friendly attractions and venues across the city, and fortunately for me, most of them are within a 10 minute drive of home.

I’ve always been an avid supporter of local businesses, and enjoying local attractions, so I am delighted that this summer, Visit Stoke and Stoke-on-Trent City Council have launched ‘Stoke-cation’! The idea behind ‘Stoke-cation’ is to encourage people to spend their summer in the city this year and help support the recovery of the city’s rich cultural tourism offer. Tourism in the city supports over 6000 jobs and creates in the region of £357m for our local economy, so it’s vital to me, not only in my role as the cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, but also as a resident of this city, that I support those venues.

This summer, my family will be out and about having picnics and enjoying the walks around our amazing parks, the park most local to me is Longton Park where we enjoy many a day out. We also like to venture further, to the likes of Burlsem Park, and I’m keen for us to spend more time in Hanley Park which has received significant investment following a successful bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and is now home to The Pavilion Cafe, as well as The Boathouse. So a cup of tea and a treat will definitely be on the cards.

We’re pretty lucky to be living in one of the greenest cities in the country which is home to more than 90 formal parks and open spaces - so we’re never short of somewhere to go for a walk.

Another outdoor place I’m keen on re-visiting and is always a favourite with my boys is Trentham Gardens. It’s so nice to be able to grab an ice cream and take a walk around the lake. I’m especially eager to visit this summer now that they’ve unveiled new fairy sculptures.

Many of the attractions in the city are working towards achieving the VisitEngland ‘We’re good to go’ industry mark, which gives us all that extra reassurance that every precaution is being put in place in response to the coronavirus, and that we can all enjoy a safe and relaxing day out. From pre-booked time slots to one-way routes around them, these attractions are beginning to open up and welcome us back with wide Stokie arms.

I could go on forever and tell you all about the places we’ll be visiting this summer and why we enjoy them, but we’d be here a long time. If you’re feeling a little lost for inspiration, or want help planning your days out, check out the Visit Stoke website for ideas.

Visit Stoke

Other than visiting places, what else do we enjoy doing over the summer? The Summer Reading Challenge of course! This year, the reading challenge is all about getting silly and having fun with a new gang - The Silly Squad. I absolutely love reading, and I love reading with the kids (I’d like to think I’m as good as the library staff when animating a story to the kids - but I’m probably not), so the summer reading challenge for us is an opportunity for the kids to get into the habit of reading for pleasure, and getting excited about sitting down with a book, be it on their own, or with a family member.

Being in the middle of a pandemic may be making this year’s ‘virtual’ summer reading challenge somewhat different to what we’ve known in the past - browsing the shelves, marking off our visits on the chart or going to a disco at City Central Library to see our fabulous librarian Janet dressed as an alien. But it’s giving us access to lots of online resources and activities that offer virtual rewards for taking part, and the Silly Squad theme is sure to bring a few smiles and laughs.

You can sign up for the reading challenge at www.sillysquad.org.uk. Library services are open for a click, call and collect service at selected locations across the city – this service is proving really popular with more than 1,200 books accessed this way in little over two weeks. For more info on your closest library and to check opening times online.

Libraries

It’s safe to say that we’ve all had a hard time in recent months, so as we start to come out of this on the other side, it’s time to re-explore what’s on our doorstep.

While I can’t promise you tropical temperatures, or offer you a cocktail by the pool, what I can promise you is that Stoke-on-Trent is ready for you revisit it, and its waiting for you with its amazing attractions, beautiful greenery and a great big friendly welcome like nowhere else. So get yourselves out, grab a 99 at the park, eat cake at Emma Bridgewater and browse the shops at Middleport Pottery. With so much culture and heritage, why go anywhere else this summer? And while you are out and about exploring our awesome city, please share your photos on social media with the hashtags #Stokecation and #MyStokeStory to help us to spread the word about why Stoke-on-Trent is the best option for a staycation.