As a local resident, Tony was keen to support one of our biggest and most acclaimed projects in recent years – transforming two large disused and vandalised playing fields on the edge of West Derby and Stockbridge Village, known locally as the 'Mabby' and the 'Backfield', into the incredible Mab Lane Community Woodland.
Tony told us: 'The playing fields were total no-go areas, I hadn't been for years. I really wanted to do something to help change it.'
In fact, the area had become victim to fly-tipping and criminal activity, as well as extensive flooding, and for many years the local community unsuccessfully sought solutions to these issues.
In 2008, we began a series of activities, asking the community to help us decide what to do with the area. We held a fun day to bring local families together to discuss the changes, and we chatted with residents of all ages about how they would like to use the area. We even brought in a local artist, and asked children from the schools nearby to design us three timber sculptures to be included in the landscaping design – helping local children to feel involved and proud of the beautiful new woodland they were helping to create.
Tony told us: 'I got involved initially through my photography; I wanted to capture all of the changes as a record for the local community, so we could see how far we had come.
'Then I helped to show some visitors around the new woodland, like the Bishop of Liverpool – talking to local people, it was really clear how proud everyone was.'
In 2010, the Mab Lane Community Woodland was officially opened by the local community, with new pathways for walkers and cyclists and areas for family picnics.
And the best bit? Hundreds of local residents volunteered to pick up a spade and help us to plant over 20,000 beautiful trees. Thank you to everyone who made this a true community effort!
'I go running there every day," says Tony. "Locally we don't worry about crime there now, and it has just opened the whole area up; the woodland is used by all walks of life with shoppers, families, dog walkers, runners and wildlife spotters. I do a lot of my photography there now.'
'I have lived here for so long that I remember when it was just farmers' fields here with cows. Then the area was left and it became a very sad place with lots of crime. But now it's come full circle with the Mersey Forest and I am looking forward to it staying this way. I love the place!'
The transformation of Mab Lane Community Woodland was delivered through a partnership of local people and organisations, including Liverpool City Council, the Forestry Commission, Riverside, and the Mersey Forest.