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Worsthorne pensioner helps make Burnley's streets safer
DESPITE recently celebrating her 87th birthday, Mary Pickles still goes out on the town twice a month.
But the teetotal widow, who lives in Worsthorne, shuns Burnley’s bars and clubs, and instead joins up with the town’s Street Pastors team.
The former postmistress will sweep up broken glass from the streets, distribute chocolate, hand-out flip-flops to shoeless girls whose high-heels have proved troublesome, and help drunken youngsters get a taxi home.
She said: “It is something I love doing. As soon as I heard about the Street Pastors’ being set up I felt it would be something I could do, and should do.”
Mary, who is under five feet tall, has been part of the team since it was set up in Burnley nearly four years ago and enjoys every minute of it.
“My five grandchildren said it was too dangerous to be on the streets at that time of night,” she said. “But I have never been frightened and many of the people we meet tell me I remind them of their grandmothers.”
The Street Pastors tour the town on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm to 3am.
She chats to club owners and doormen as well as the young men and women who are wandering between Burnley’s pubs and clubs.
Mary, along with husband William, ran the post offices in Lower House and then Coggs Lane, Burnley, for many years.
They moved to Fleetwood in 1985, but when William died suddenly, Mary returned to the Burnley area.
Talking of her experience as a Street Pastor, she said: “We found one girl wandering on the edge of town one morning very drunk.
“She said she had fallen out with her boyfriend and was walking home to Rawtenstall, eight miles away.
“Eventually we managed to get her to phone a sister and arrange to be picked up in the town centre and taken home.”
A spokesman for the group, which has 28 members, said: “Over the time we have been operating we have been informed by the police and Burnley Borough Council that they have noticed a remarkable decrease in the crime rate due to the ‘over exuberance’ of some of our young people.
“We have been involved in mediating between arguments, helping with First Aid, always ensuring young people are safe whilst they are out enjoying themselves.”