Jan Robinson’s Fond Farewell to Freshfields


It’s Goodbye from me and it’s Goodbye from him!

Hi, it’s Jan and Fred from Haunted Liverpool writing to say ‘Goodbye’!

It doesn’t seem like ten years since I approached the Trustees and asked if I could become a Fundraiser for Freshfields? I still wonder how it all happened.

I’d always wanted to be a teacher but missed the boat. I contracted Multiple Sclerosis in my twenties; and that put me out of action for many years. But, fifteen years ago, I finally achieved my dream. I got my degree and a fantastic teaching post and I thought I was set for life.......you could be ahead of me now? Oh yes indeed!!

Our beloved Cassie, who we had adopted from Freshfields, passed away in 2003 and we gave her bowl and bed to the charity. We then became dog walkers and volunteered; we ran a charity auction at St Luke’s church and I think it raised around £2000.00. I really wanted to do something that would make a difference to Freshfields but I couldn’t teach and fundraise, so I had to make a choice. You don’t get any prizes for guessing who won...

We started in a small way, holding bag packing and collections. Indeed we spent Christmas Eve and New Years Eve in Sainsbury’s in Crosby – and raised many hundreds of pounds.

That December I was looking to book some tickets for Fred to go on a decent Ghost Tour, but I knew he wouldn’t appreciate ‘Shiverpool’ (the other tour in town). I wondered if I could take some stories from Tom Slemen’s books and turn them into a charity Ghost Tour… I began scripting the first tour, and home checker, Elisa Cowley, an actress, helped me to put it together.

Tom Slemen himself joined us on the first tour to wish us well.  Elisa led the group into the inky night, telling Ghost stories along the way. The tour ended in St James’s cemetery.  The word spread that Tom Slemen’s stories were being told in a Ghost Tour and soon the phone was ringing off the hook. Within a few months Steve (farm) and John Woodward from Grosvenor Print had created the brand ‘Haunted Liverpool’. John has been amazing, using his talents to create wonderful leaflets that made all the difference when it came to selling events.  Steve kept the website going and we’d still have been at first base but for these two very talented gentlemen.

Tom is in the middle of the main picture with the beige cap, and I’m in the black coat on the right.

Helen organised the first leaflet and website and continued to support us throughout - and a ‘Tour was born!’ People could book online, and they did; but nothing prepared us for the hordes of people booking on the Halloween Tours. Fortunately Elisa knew that would happen so we were sort of prepared.

I can’t forget Janet Parry and her wonderful nephew Daniel. Their support was vital and much needed in the early years. Janet came up with idea of hosting Ghostly Fireside Tales and we ran quite a few events which raised lots of money.  She took over the finance for a while which left me free to develop new events.

As time went by we added more tours in different locations. The stories were all from Tom’s Haunted Liverpool books and he gave us a great deal of support in the early days.  Elisa found new actors to help out and Rob Bond aka Captain Moonlight was born. Moonlight had many fans, not least the group of Holly Lodge ladies who had him pinned to a tree in the cemetery. He ended up telling the story from behind the tree...

Spurred on by our success we decided to run overnight vigils in St. James’ cemetery. Elisa’s husband Jan very kindly set up a camp in the cemetery. We had 3 gazebos, a fire pit and a portaloo (behind a screen). The tour set off at midnight, the guides told stories along the way and the tour ended at the camp site. The second part of the evening involved a medium who undertook a ‘Transfiguration’. He called up spirits whose faces appeared over his own face and he passed on messages from the ‘spirits’, all in different voices. I was terrified watching it and my mobility scooter was fully charged and ready for the off. The faces and voices came and went and every member of the audience was speechless. I would not want to witness that again, I can tell you!

The third and final part of the night was the Ghost Hunt with EMF meters. Off they all went around the cemetery and I could see the meters flashing in the distance followed by screams when, apparently, a large headstone toppled over by itself.  I knew my place – sitting by the fire with a large block of chocolate.....The group eventually returned with photos of orbs, shadows and hazy figures. I awarded the certificates and the team dismantled the camp and home we went.  The event raised over £1,200.00 so it was worth getting scared a bit!

Mega thanks go to Mrs Pennyworth, the matron of the West Derby Workhouse (aka Penny Brown from the cattery). And I must mention Dave Cox aka The Hangman. He pitched in with everything and he’s a very talented lad. None of it would have been possible without Penny, Dave and ‘Fredward’ aka Fred Robinson who kept it altogether.

So many people helped us along the way, too many to mention but thanks to them all, especially Fiona, Jane, Debbie & Colette who have been there for us.

More vigils followed along with Psychic Events and Murder Mystery Dinner Theatres.  Oh, I mustn’t forget the Christmas Ghost Walks with a four course Christmas dinner.

We even hosted a ‘Time Travel Night’ (which took a bit of getting right) but we got there eventually. Tom’s books contained quite a few time travel stories and that’s where we got the idea. We had a slide show, projector and screen.

In the middle of all this we adopted Fred Lurcher. He was not an easy dog to live with but we loved him to bits and he had a fantastic life with us. He’s gone now and there’s not a day goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him. We are very fortunate that Pippin, Fiona’s dog in Reception has taken a liking to us and we take him out a couple of times a week. We will continue to take him out in the future.

This is Fred Lurcher on holiday. Got to cottage, found the sofa, asleep in under two minutes...! I still can’t believe he’s gone.

As the Ghost Walks became quieter we found other ways of raising money via the Cathedral abseil and even Skydiving.  We’ve also been running various charity collections.  Our recent Afternoon Tea proved to be a bobby dazzler and raised just under £1000.00.

The last year or so has been very hard for both of us in every way and it’s with great sadness that we have decided to leave Freshfields. I thought I’d be around till I popped my clogs but just as I was wrong with the teaching, the same has happened here.  We have both suffered ill health; earlier in the year I had a second hip replacement.  I went back to work six weeks after the op and was collecting in Lord Street in Southport.  I was on my mobility scooter and as I reversed, I hit a bump and the scooter toppled over.  I crash landed on my shoulder managing to dislocate and fracture it.  Two months later and two rounds of surgery and it’s not healing too well at all.  My MS confines me to a wheelchair but I could get around on crutches – but not anymore.  My arm is too sore to take my weight.  So it is a struggle.

Looking at what we did and how we raised money, we had two dedicated aims. The first was to raise as much money as was humanly possible and the second was to constantly bring new supporters on board and get them interested in Freshfields. I can say that we put our heart and soul into everything we did and I’d do it again in a heartbeat – if I were ten years younger.

The times are definitely a changing and if Freshfields is to have a secure future we need to raise thousands of pounds every week and that will require a different kind of fundraising input.

We will still be taking Pippin out and we’ll be around in the future when we get a bit better.  But, right now, we need to take some time out and try and improve both of our health.  Like everyone who works at Freshfields, what we did made a difference and no animal lover could ask for more.

So, it’s goodbye from Me and it’s goodbye from Him....

Jan and Fred Robinson

It’s Goodbye from me and it’s Goodbye from him!

Hi, it’s Jan and Fred from Haunted Liverpool writing to say ‘Goodbye’!

It doesn’t seem like ten years since I approached the Trustees and asked if I could become a Fundraiser for Freshfields? I still wonder how it all happened.

I’d always wanted to be a teacher but missed the boat. I contracted Multiple Sclerosis in my twenties; and that put me out of action for many years. But, fifteen years ago, I finally achieved my dream. I got my degree and a fantastic teaching post and I thought I was set for life.......you could be ahead of me now? Oh yes indeed!!

Our beloved Cassie, who we had adopted from Freshfields, passed away in 2003 and we gave her bowl and bed to the charity. We then became dog walkers and volunteered; we ran a charity auction at St Luke’s church and I think it raised around £2000.00. I really wanted to do something that would make a difference to Freshfields but I couldn’t teach and fundraise, so I had to make a choice. You don’t get any prizes for guessing who won...

We started in a small way, holding bag packing and collections. Indeed we spent Christmas Eve and New Years Eve in Sainsbury’s in Crosby – and raised many hundreds of pounds.

That December I was looking to book some tickets for Fred to go on a decent Ghost Tour, but I knew he wouldn’t appreciate ‘Shiverpool’ (the other tour in town). I wondered if I could take some stories from Tom Slemen’s books and turn them into a charity Ghost Tour… I began scripting the first tour, and home checker, Elisa Cowley, an actress, helped me to put it together.

Tom Slemen himself joined us on the first tour to wish us well.  Elisa led the group into the inky night, telling Ghost stories along the way. The tour ended in St James’s cemetery.  The word spread that Tom Slemen’s stories were being told in a Ghost Tour and soon the phone was ringing off the hook. Within a few months Steve (farm) and John Woodward from Grosvenor Print had created the brand ‘Haunted Liverpool’. John has been amazing, using his talents to create wonderful leaflets that made all the difference when it came to selling events.  Steve kept the website going and we’d still have been at first base but for these two very talented gentlemen.

Tom is in the middle of the main picture with the beige cap, and I’m in the black coat on the right.

Helen organised the first leaflet and website and continued to support us throughout - and a ‘Tour was born!’ People could book online, and they did; but nothing prepared us for the hordes of people booking on the Halloween Tours. Fortunately Elisa knew that would happen so we were sort of prepared.

I can’t forget Janet Parry and her wonderful nephew Daniel. Their support was vital and much needed in the early years. Janet came up with idea of hosting Ghostly Fireside Tales and we ran quite a few events which raised lots of money.  She took over the finance for a while which left me free to develop new events.

As time went by we added more tours in different locations. The stories were all from Tom’s Haunted Liverpool books and he gave us a great deal of support in the early days.  Elisa found new actors to help out and Rob Bond aka Captain Moonlight was born. Moonlight had many fans, not least the group of Holly Lodge ladies who had him pinned to a tree in the cemetery. He ended up telling the story from behind the tree...

Spurred on by our success we decided to run overnight vigils in St. James’ cemetery. Elisa’s husband Jan very kindly set up a camp in the cemetery. We had 3 gazebos, a fire pit and a portaloo (behind a screen). The tour set off at midnight, the guides told stories along the way and the tour ended at the camp site. The second part of the evening involved a medium who undertook a ‘Transfiguration’. He called up spirits whose faces appeared over his own face and he passed on messages from the ‘spirits’, all in different voices. I was terrified watching it and my mobility scooter was fully charged and ready for the off. The faces and voices came and went and every member of the audience was speechless. I would not want to witness that again, I can tell you!

The third and final part of the night was the Ghost Hunt with EMF meters. Off they all went around the cemetery and I could see the meters flashing in the distance followed by screams when, apparently, a large headstone toppled over by itself.  I knew my place – sitting by the fire with a large block of chocolate.....The group eventually returned with photos of orbs, shadows and hazy figures. I awarded the certificates and the team dismantled the camp and home we went.  The event raised over £1,200.00 so it was worth getting scared a bit!

Mega thanks go to Mrs Pennyworth, the matron of the West Derby Workhouse (aka Penny Brown from the cattery). And I must mention Dave Cox aka The Hangman. He pitched in with everything and he’s a very talented lad. None of it would have been possible without Penny, Dave and ‘Fredward’ aka Fred Robinson who kept it altogether.

So many people helped us along the way, too many to mention but thanks to them all, especially Fiona, Jane, Debbie & Colette who have been there for us.

More vigils followed along with Psychic Events and Murder Mystery Dinner Theatres.  Oh, I mustn’t forget the Christmas Ghost Walks with a four course Christmas dinner.

We even hosted a ‘Time Travel Night’ (which took a bit of getting right) but we got there eventually. Tom’s books contained quite a few time travel stories and that’s where we got the idea. We had a slide show, projector and screen.

In the middle of all this we adopted Fred Lurcher. He was not an easy dog to live with but we loved him to bits and he had a fantastic life with us. He’s gone now and there’s not a day goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him. We are very fortunate that Pippin, Fiona’s dog in Reception has taken a liking to us and we take him out a couple of times a week. We will continue to take him out in the future.

This is Fred Lurcher on holiday. Got to cottage, found the sofa, asleep in under two minutes...! I still can’t believe he’s gone.

As the Ghost Walks became quieter we found other ways of raising money via the Cathedral abseil and even Skydiving.  We’ve also been running various charity collections.  Our recent Afternoon Tea proved to be a bobby dazzler and raised just under £1000.00.

The last year or so has been very hard for both of us in every way and it’s with great sadness that we have decided to leave Freshfields. I thought I’d be around till I popped my clogs but just as I was wrong with the teaching, the same has happened here.  We have both suffered ill health; earlier in the year I had a second hip replacement.  I went back to work six weeks after the op and was collecting in Lord Street in Southport.  I was on my mobility scooter and as I reversed, I hit a bump and the scooter toppled over.  I crash landed on my shoulder managing to dislocate and fracture it.  Two months later and two rounds of surgery and it’s not healing too well at all.  My MS confines me to a wheelchair but I could get around on crutches – but not anymore.  My arm is too sore to take my weight.  So it is a struggle.

Looking at what we did and how we raised money, we had two dedicated aims. The first was to raise as much money as was humanly possible and the second was to constantly bring new supporters on board and get them interested in Freshfields. I can say that we put our heart and soul into everything we did and I’d do it again in a heartbeat – if I were ten years younger.

The times are definitely a changing and if Freshfields is to have a secure future we need to raise thousands of pounds every week and that will require a different kind of fundraising input.

We will still be taking Pippin out and we’ll be around in the future when we get a bit better.  But, right now, we need to take some time out and try and improve both of our health.  Like everyone who works at Freshfields, what we did made a difference and no animal lover could ask for more.

So, it’s goodbye from Me and it’s goodbye from Him....

Jan and Fred Robinson


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