MEMBERS of a sailing club turned out in force at an annual general meeting to voice their worries over its future following the sale of Eccleston Mere.

Pilkington Sailing Club had hoped to buy the site themselves along with joint supervisors the Pilkington Angling Association, but they were beaten to the land by Rainford-based firm Pheasant Equities.

At the club’s annual general meeting last Thursday night, 60 club members and residents discussed their anxieties over the site’s future, more than twice the usual number of attendees.

“There is very little we can do and we are just hoping that we will be allowed to use it,” said Freda Lunt, vice president of the sailing club, who has been part of the organisation for 49 years.

“Some people are in the dark and feel upset. Our committee is working really hard and it would be a disaster if we no longer had a sailing club in St Helens.

“I’m trying to stay optimistic but it will depend if we can afford it. We don’t know what their plans are.

“We don’t want to fall out with these people and they haven’t said that we can’t be there and this isn’t their fault.

“Eccleston Mere is a beautiful spot and is something the town can be proud of and everyone wants it to remain.

“We are just going to hope that they don’t charge us and we are trying to salvage our sailing club.”

Pheasant Equities has also bought the Mill Dam site but denied rumours that they had bought land including Pilkington's head office.

And they made moves to reassure the club that they would be happy to see a range of sporting activities continue at the site. A statement said: “We are delighted to have acquired this unique site and are excited by the plans we have for the future.

“We look forward to working in conjunction with the existing clubs who already utilise the mere and have liaised already with the Pilkington Angling Association and the Pilkington Sailing Club as well as several residents.

“It is envisaged that the mere can be used for a wider variety of water sports and activities offering the community access to a wide range of sporting and leisure pursuits.

“Discussions with the council and several charitable organisations are ongoing and we hope to announce our detailed plans early in the New Year.

“We are a conscientious, environmentally-aware organisation and the preservation of the ecology of the mere is also of paramount importance to us as an organisation.”

A Pilkington LTD spokesperson confirmed the sale: “Our subsidiary Pilkingtons Properties Ltd has recently sold the Eccleston Mere land to a third party and our understanding is the sites will remain and that a new owner will be contacting the sailing and angling clubs over future use.”