Botanic Gardens lake campaigner praises MP's office for ‘very helpful’ response

Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media
  • A Southport resident campaigning to get the Botanic Lake in Southport cleaned has praised the town’s MP and his caseworkers for their ‘very helpful’ response to his concerns.
  • Mr David Rawsthorne is campaigning after his close friend, Ben Smith-Crallan, died after accidentally falling into the lake and catching an infection.
  • The MPs office contacted Mr Rawsthorne after seeing his campaign on Stand Up for Southport and asked how they could help.
  • Now the MPs caseworkers have secured a meeting with the National Lottery Heritage Fund at the Botanic Gardens
  • Mr Rawsthorne described the MP’s office has ‘incredibly helpful’ and hopes to secure a positive outcome.

MP Damien Moore is urgently pursuing funding to clean up and improve a lake in Southport where a local man fell in and subsequently died.

Ben Smith-Crallan, 37, from Southport, sadly died in hospital in June 2018 after being placed in an induced coma to fight off the effects of a necrotising fasciitis (NF) bug. His family believes that Ben may have contracted NF after slipping into the lake at Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport.

A Facebook group called "Make a change" For Ben - Campaign To Get Botanic Gardens Lake Cleaned has already attracted over 2,600 members after being set up by his friend, David Rawsthorne, while a Go Fund Me appeal has already raised over £3,500.

The Botanic Gardens Community Association meanwhile is calling for work to ensure ‘crystal clear waters’ for the lake at the park, which is a popular spot for families from across the region.

The BGCA wants to see the installation of aerating water features, the restoration of the ornamental bridges over the lake and investment for the old Museum building.

Local campaigner David Rawsthorne is doing all he can to raise awareness of the issue and is asking as many local people as possible to add their voices to the campaign for improvements to be made.

He said: “Ben accidentally fell into Botanic lake in May 2018. The infection that resulted from being submerged in the water caused a domino effect of severe complications which ended his life three weeks later.

“Whilst the issues Ben faced are rare, we believe that the cleaning of the lake should be made a priority by Sefton Council, who have so far been reluctant to undertake work and make this a priority. A flow is required to make the water body less hazardous to public health, and by adding aeration to decompose organic matter and support aquatic wildlife, the lake will thrive.

“I am grateful to our MP and his caseworkers for supporting our campaign – they’ve been very helpful and have shown an appetite to get something done about this issue.

“I posted a message on Stand Up for Southport the weekend I launched the campaign and one of his caseworkers immediately reached out and contacted me on a Sunday afternoon – out of hours – to see what they could do to support the campaign and get things moving.

“Within 24 hours, our campaign was assigned to a caseworker who is now writing to government ministers and organisations to explore avenues for funding – and they’ve provided us with weekly updates.

“Damien Moore and his caseworkers have a good reputation locally for getting things done and if anyone can get things moving, they can.

“We already have a meeting with regional managers from the National Lottery Heritage Fund who have shown a close interest and I’m hopeful we can secure a positive outcome.”

Southport MP Damien Moore said: “I have spoken with David Rawsthorne about his desire to see the lake at the Botanic Gardens cleaned up after the tragedy that happened to Ben. Botanic Gardens is one of our town’s most historic and iconic parks and is enjoyed by a large number of residents.

“The volunteers in the Botanic Gardens Community Association do a fantastic job maintaining the park to such a high standard year after year, but they need support to bring the infrastructure and the facilities there up to scratch.

“I have spoken to David Renwick, the Area Director for the North at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to seek their support for the project and I have invited him and his team to visit the Botanic Gardens with David [Rawsthorne] and I to see for themselves what work is required and the importance of it.“My caseworkers and I are determined to help bring about improvements at the Botanic Gardens in Ben’s memory and for the benefit of local residents.”