The Liverpool Echo newspaper has profiled our Prospice 21 initiative. Below is the article:
Former Bootle Grammar School pupils have reunited to try to give the area a business boost.
The first step will be creating a “docklands trail” showcasing the social history of the Mersey waterfront.
It will be situated on six dockside sites owned by The Peel Group, maintained by students from Hugh Baird College and curated by National Museums Liverpool (NML).
It is just one of 18 business ideas which Prospice 21 are planning for the long term.
The group – made up of around 40 Bootle Grammar School old boys and taking its name from the town’s motto – aims to draw on decades of collective expertise to help improve quality of life and employment opportunities in the area.
Bootle-born founder of Prospice 21 Harvey Dodgson said they want the town to become “a place that people from around the country would want to move to”.
He added: “Two years ago there was a celebration of what would have been the school’s 100th anniversary.
“I was being given a lift back from the dinner and I happened to express sadness at how depressed Bootle is. One of the guys in the car said: ‘Bootle is like the poor – always with us.’
“I got annoyed but thought about it overnight. I said to my wife over breakfast, I’m going to create a project to give something back to Bootle.”
Within weeks the structure was put in place, with the intention of addressing business opportunities and working with community groups to bring economic growth to Bootle.
Harvey, 69, said: “We understand that lots of people are doing lots of stuff in Bootle and have been for decades. What we’re looking for is where we can add value to what is already happening. Where there is a gap, we’ll use our expertise and seek to fill it.
“We’ve got Old Bootleians in probably every walk of life that you could want, be it public or private sector. The common factor is we think we owe something for what the town gave us.”
A proof of concept for the docklands trail – put together by Hugh Baird students – will feature at events hosted by Peel during the current International Festival for Business in Liverpool.
It will then go on display at both the Maritime Museum and Museum of Liverpool, with the first docklands site scheduled to be complete next summer.
Harvey said: “This is going to be a world standard exhibit developed by students. We know it will be world standard because NML are – and they are accepting that responsibility.”
He added: “I would like the docklands to be owned with pride by the people of Bootle, both in terms of its history and future. And I’d like to see how many people from around the world can visit.”
Since 2012, members of Prospice 21 have also been working with local community groups including a school, a children’s centre, an accommodation project, a neighbourhood centre and a branch of the YMCA.
Harvey believes old boys’ associations across the country could replicate the work in Bootle but does not accept that this is the ‘Big Society’ in action.
He said: “I’m keeping away from politics. Some of those labels could be applied but we’re just doing it and getting on with it. We are completely informal and that makes it interestingly difficult for people to classify us.
“We can’t be pigeon-holed which is great because people have to think about what we are and listen to what we’re saying. We are not a charity. Then you end up spending your time raising money.
“Our ideas will have to end up being owned by a proper entity – we don’t want it to be us. It’s going to be a long haul, at least 10 years, and I hope that others will take it over.”