EVERY Tuesday a small group of dedicated volunteers help keep community spirit alive in Appleton Thorn.

In all weathers and with a smile, they maintain the churchyard at St Cross, the war memorial, the piece of land known as the triangle and the tree where the Bawming of the Thorn ceremony takes place.

The group call themselves ‘Team Thorn’ and it has been a labour of love for Syd Edwards since he retired from Runcorn Development Corporation in 1993.

Syd, of Parkland Close, said: “I was inspired by how the corporation looked after its land and properties and brought that feeling back to Appleton Thorn.

“I started work at the village hall that year. I cut the grass, planted trees and made a bowling green which has sadly fallen into disrepair.

“When I first looked at the church the grass was about 3ft high. It was really a bit of a mess. I decided that would be my project for a long time into the future. Initially on my own I cut the grass, sorted the hedges out and slowly but surely I started to bring people in.”

Now there are 11 members of Team Thorn, including Syd’s wife Dorothy, who has been a parish councillor in the village for 30 years.

Syd, who has lived in Appleton Thorn since 1968, added: “They volunteered, they’re still here and we still work together.

“We look after the whole churchyard which is quite extensive as well as the war memorial, the triangle and the bawming tree. Besides that we extend beyond there and do litter picks at certain times of the year because we’re not far away from the Poplar truck stop.

“Unfortunately Appleton Thorn can be a dumping ground because vehicles come through here heading towards Stretton and sometimes throw their cartons out. I’ve been doing it since 1993 and I’ve been quite happy. The place is nice, clean and tidy.”

Team Thorn meet every Tuesday between 10am and 12.30pm but they often put in extra hours without any fuss.

Syd said: “If we have a wedding we make sure everything is cut and ready. If we have a funeral it’s the same so the hours start to add on but we don’t count those.

“We feel the centre of the village should be attractive for people coming through and the people who live here.

“We are one of the few villages around Warrington not connected with the pavement network that goes to the town.

“We don’t have a pavement from Appleton Thorn to Warrington. We only have roads so in a way we’re slightly isolated which I like.

“What makes it special is that it’s quiet, the people are lovely and the housing is sufficient to meet the demands of this area.

“The fact that the volunteer do it in all weathers, all seasons without complaint is what gives me the most pride. It also helps that the women at the church on Tuesday morning have a coffee morning so that’s an incentive as we get a cup of coffee and a biscuit. We get together and talk and put the world to rights.”