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Garden Quarter festival will bring together residents old and new

Street party, cinema night and fun run among the activities planned on October 7-8

Members of Garden Quarter Association Sarra Cooper (chair of festivals and events), Neil Kendall and Matt Baker (Garden Quarter co-chair)(Image: UGC)

Residents of a city suburb have been planning an exciting programme of events for residents new and long standing to get to know each other better.

The Garden Quarter Association have been busy planning a two day festival of mini events which include a street party, a cinema night, a fun run and a guided tour which aim to strengthen the community spirit and also to welcome people who have recently moved to the area.

The Garden Quarter Welcomes Weekend will begin on Saturday, October 7 where residents are urged to get up early and represent the neighbourhood in the 5km Fun Run which regularly takes place at the nearby Countess of Chester Country Park.

Once the calories have been burned, locals are invited to bring an item of food (and a brolly if wet!) to make up an enormous community buffet which will be served on Cambrian Road, in the heart of the Garden Quarter.

The Garden Quarter, well known for hosting street events, will be providing entertainment from the well known Little Jazz Band and A Handbag of Harmonies choir, while one of the front gardens will be transformed into a little bar serving refreshments.

Later on the Saturday residents are invited to dress up as the community cinema located at Garden Lane Church will be teaming up with the Chichester Arms to present a Gatsby Soiree.

Jackie Speed and the team at the local pub will be laying on a buffet before locals move next door to enjoy The Great Gatsby film in the local cinema.

Landlady Jackie said: “The whole evening will be free. We will be inviting everyone back after the movie for a good dance!”

Cinema organiser Paul Brand said: “Screen on the Lane is our cosy and friendly cinema which has been running successfully for several years. We are delighted that the team next door at the Chichester Arms will be offering entertainment before and after the film. It’s a very friendly bar and we are looking forward to the evening.”

On Sunday morning, local church St Thomas’ will be dressed with sheaves of wheat, fruit and vegetables as Father Steven Sheridan opens the doors to children from the local Chester Blue Coat and people from the neighbourhood for a traditional harvest festival.

Father Steven said: “This will be a very special occasion where we continue to reach out into the community and make them feel at home in our beautiful building.”

The final activity of the weekend is specifically targeted at young people who are moving into the Garden Quarter as they continue their studies at the University of Chester.

The local residents and traders have teamed up with Chester Students Union to offer an insightful tour of the ‘hotspots of the vibrant community’ where people can meet some of the locals, learn about the things that go on in this part of Chester, meet some of the shopkeepers and landlords of Garden Lane, and earn some freebies on the way.

Festival and events leader Sarra Cooper, a former student of the university, is the brains behind the event. She said: “When I arrived in Chester several years ago I quickly learned about the brilliant societies I could join and where the best bars were in town, but I didn’t really get to know about what was on offer in the neighbourhood which I called home for three years.

“I think we are offering a really special way for students to feel a little bit more welcome in our streets at the beginning of a new academic year.

“And the added bonus will be that whoever completes the tour will have eaten several cakes or flapjacks on the way round and earn a free pint in one of our fantastic local bars.”

Garden Quarter Associaton co-chair Matt Baker said: “This is a special place to live, whether a long term resident or someone who only stays here for a year or two.

“We are always striving to find way to foster a better understanding between the diverse bunch of people who share our streets, and I think this mini festival is a really good stepping stone to achieving our goal.

“We hope people will come along to some or all of the events - after all, they are entirely free!”

Local resident Neil Kendall, who was also a student in Chester, said: “I liked this area of Chester so much as a student that I eventually moved back here from London. It’s a really friendly place and there are a lot of people who work very hard to make it a vibrant and welcoming community.”

More information about all the activities that take place in the neighbourhood can be found on facebook.com/gardenquarter.

The full weekend programme consists of:

Saturday, October 7: Park Run at 9am at Countess of Chester Country Park - Join fellow fitness freaks (and fitness-phobes) in representing the Garden Quarter in the 5km fun run; Street Party from noon–3pm on Cambrian Road - Bring and share lunch. Musical entertainment from Little Jazz Band and A Handbag of Harmonies; Gatsby Soiree at 6.30pm at Chichester Arms followed by screening of The Great Gatsby at 7.30pm at Garden Lane Church.

Sunday, October 8: Harvest festival at 10am at St Thomas of Canterbury Church - Join Father Steve and children from Chester Blue Coat School; Walkabout with 2.30pm start from St Thomas of Canterbury Church - discover the hotspots of this vibrant community and earn some freebies on the way.

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