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The Friends of Blaise was originally set up in 1981 when Blaise Castle, that magnificent folly on the hill, was in dire straits, neglected, falling down and the victim of arson and vandal attacks. It was fenced off from the public for safety reasons and its future lay in the balance.
With the tireless efforts of a small group of dedicated local residents, enough money was raised to save the building and ensure it was restored to the point where the public could once more gain entry and enjoy the views from the battlements.
The Friends emerged from this small group of supporters and over the coming years, contributed to numerous projects on the estate and helped to ensure its attractions were maintained and improved for everyone.
As we approach 2020, we face a continuing squeeze on Council Park budgets, making the job of maintaining the fabric of Blaise even harder than it has been over the last year.
This will clearly be our biggest challenge and to meet it we will need to put an even greater emphasis into mobilising volunteer support, deciding on our top priorities and implementing these with the funding we have at our disposal.
We must also ensure that our voices are heard by the Council as they implement their austerity budget plans. But we cannot do this without the help of the local community and in particular, the Friends of Blaise and your suggestions and support are now needed more than ever.
However the current situation that the Council now finds itself is leading to a closer more cooperative relationship with them for our volunteer work and funding contributions, and this has got to be a good thing for us in the longer term.