Strawberry Field, the iconic site immortalised in The Beatles hit ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, is set for a major redevelopment which should see it open its famous gates to the public for the first time.
Today, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the release of the unforgettable song, The Salvation Army has launched their inspiring new vision for the Strawberry Field site, weaving together educational, cultural, heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold, imaginative plan.
The revival of the site, treasured by John Lennon as he grew up a stone’s throw away in Woolton, Liverpool, will include a training and work placements hub for young people with learning disabilities; a new, authentic exhibition on the place, the song and John Lennon’s early life around Strawberry Field; and the development of a haven for spiritual exploration.
Major Drew McCombe, Divisional Leader for The Salvation Army, North West said: “Strawberry Field is special in the hearts of many people in Liverpool, the UK and across the world, and we at The Salvation Army are aiming to redevelop the site to do justice to the many people that have been supported by the children’s home or formed a connection with the iconic Beatles song.
“It’s no secret that Strawberry Field was special to John Lennon – it mattered to him – and it feels right to launch our fundraising campaign and new website on the 50th anniversary of the UK release of Strawberry Fields Forever. We’re going to inspire people to become involved in the project in any way they can, to create a pivotal place in the lives of young people and a must-see destination for Lennon and Beatles fans the world over.
“And this is just the beginning. There is much more to share about the site beyond its links to John Lennon. Over the next few months we will be letting fans across the globe know just how special this site was to John, as well as showing them how they can be a part of the site’s legacy and its future. There are some fantastic plans just around the corner, so watch this space.”
A stylish dedicated website, www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com, launches today to support the new vision and capture the essence and heart of the project, and also offer inspiring information on how donors and volunteers can become involved.
Excitement for the project has been echoed by Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, who said: “I’m expressing my wholehearted support of The Salvation Army’s plans to redevelop their children’s home at Strawberry Field. Their plans for a totally unique project, to provide vocational training for young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities, are to be commended.”
Peter Hooton, Chair of The Beatles Legacy Group, said: “I can think of no better way Strawberry Field could be re-developed in such an innovative way, which gives hope and job opportunities to vulnerable young people, whilst making a valuable and worthwhile contribution to The Beatles Legacy in Liverpool.”
The former Strawberry Field children’s home was the inspiration for the Fab Four hit, Strawberry Fields Forever, with John Lennon having played in its grounds as a child. The Salvation Army are focused on building on the unique legacy of Strawberry Field, to open it up to a new world of visitors who can find out why the site mattered to John Lennon, why the vision for its future matters, and why it should matter to them.
Central to the vision is a training hub for young people with learning disabilities to train in vocational areas such as catering, retail, visitor experience, and horticulture and very importantly opportunities for work placements to build skills and confidence that will lead to meaningful volunteering and sustainable employment opportunities.
The Salvation Army’s research found that in the Merseyside area, just 16% of people aged 18+ with learning disabilities are known to support providers such as charities and local authorities, and just 7% are in paid employment – the Strawberry Field project will address that issue.
Opportunities to find out more about how the project and how it can be supported, whether through donations, volunteering or by visiting the Strawberry Field online shop for unique, exclusive gifts and memorabilia, can also be found on the website. This will also be the space to watch for further updates.