Failsworth community making connections

On 26th September Failsworth Town Hall hosted a new event ‘Community Connection Forum’. Bit of mouthful, so what was it all about, who was there and why?

The flyer summed it up as ‘giving residents the opportunity to explore the wonderful community groups we have in Failsworth’. The emphasis was on health, wellbeing and volunteering. A good cross-section groups and organisations were represented, loaded with information on who they were and what they were about.

I like the town hall. It has a feel good factor. Built in 1880 it currently homes the local library and the fabulous Wholesome Cafe. It occupies an enviable spot alongside the Rochdale Canal but I’ve never ventured upstairs to the main function room before.There’s an air of awkwardness while people work out what the order of play is. I was late, announced my arrival by spilling water across the floor, so thank god Failsworth Community Choir hadn’t quite started. I like a choir, that feel good factor again. They kicked things off with songs like ‘Lean on Me’, ‘One Day Like This’ and successfully broke the ice.There were free cakes and biscuits as well as hot drinks on tap. I filled my boots, it’d be rude not to. Most of the stands had freebies on offer. Lucky I’d brought a carrier bag.

Wouldn’t say there was a big rush to start with but as the evening unfolded there was a definite ‘buzz’.

I looked about the room and started with the ‘Virgin Liaison’ reps. They impressed me. I’m not usually all that impressed when the pavement gets dug up. But they got across their pride in the company and a genuine keenness to connect with the public and resolve issues.

The Failsworth Growing Hub display caught my eye. It included some truly awesome photos taken by one of their members. Oh and they offered me a free selection of their produce. Straight in the bag! They meet on Thursdays at this great spot alongside the canal next to the Wholesome café…Action Together, Age UK and ROAR (Rochdale and Oldham Active Recovery) were also full of enthusiasm. I picked up a brilliant booklet listing all the activities for the over 50’s in Failsworth. Well worth a look and I reckon you can pick up a copy at the library or click here for the link.

Moston Brook Friends Group’s stand was the place to go if you like the outdoors. Lots to do, regular woodland walks and nature events a plenty.

If you’re energetic, or more to the point if you’re not, Making the First Move had some clever ideas to help you exercise more, sleep well and feel better – without spending loads of cash.There were groups offering support for people struggling with issues such as anxiety and depression, amazing to talk to and all local. The organisers are getting ready for next year’s Failsworth Carnival and have set the date, 16th and 17th May. The Girl Guides were inviting new members/volunteers and, back where we started, Failsworth Community Choir want your voice.

It was an excellent event and hopefully there will be more. If you get chance, go along and see for yourself what’s going on.  Fill your boots… oh, and take a carrier bag.

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Taking nothing for granted

I rarely read newspapers or watch news programmes. Truth is I avoid them. Now and then, though, something catches my attention, like the fires raging out of control in the Amazon.Far away on the other side of the world the Amazon rain forest was a place I read about at school or saw on TV documentaries. A permanent fixture so ancient and vast, it would always be there and always flourish. Then, there’s the oceans, all that plastic rubbish… and dying fish.

I took these places for granted.

I’m very lucky. I live a short tram ride from an amazing city and am free to enjoy all it has to offer from theatre, music, shopping, cafes and bars. The nearest airport is half an hours drive. Most of the best known supermarkets are within easy walking distance… and I take all that for granted too.But it doesn’t end there. Moston and the neighbouring areas have art, music, dance, theatre, a radio station, football stadium, fishing, cycling and running. With a range of social clubs to entertain and activities to engage all ages, whether you’re a cub scout, on a diet, a boxer, gardener, a champion bowler, love photography or a gripping game of chess, there’s something for everyone.Not to forget the parks, several large open green spaces, the Rochdale Canal, Moston Brook. Even a nature reserve; our very own piece of countryside.

How lucky are we? This weekend alone there’s been:

A Nature Day event next to the Lower Memorial Park.

FC United drew against Atherton Collieries in an FA Cup match.

Wayne Jacobs broadcast live reggae from the Miners Club Radio.

North West Theatre Arts Company performed at Openshaw’s Festival

At Boggart Hole Clough Simply Cycling were out in force. As were North Manchester Fitness walking group (one of their members was elsewehere at the Great North Run) and King William IV Angling Society Juniors were, oh yes, angling. The cafe was busy as ever.As for me, I nipped across the fields to the Nature Day. The carrot cake on the cake stall was to die for. A young lady, who I thought was there to help serve them up, delivered a pitch that would have had Alan Sugar ditching his diet.

Birds from Vale Royal Falconry put on a fabulous display, you could cast a fishing line, try your hand at wood carving, weaving, all sorts.Back across the fields again and through the park. The sun was out and it looked glorious.

I don’t take it for granted.

If you’ve been busy, missed out and want to find out what’s going on, have a nosey at the noticeboards in the supermarket and library. Or search Facebook and check out some local groups. Here’s a few:

Moston Brook Friends Group,  Lakeside Cafe – Boggart Hole Clough,  Miners Community Arts,  Broadhurst Community Centre,  Harpurhey Neighbourhood Project – The Centre,  Simply Cycling,  North Manchester Fitness, King William IV Angling Society,  Forever Harpurhey and Moston,  NWTAC,  Vale Royal Falconry.

Photos: Vale Royal Falconry, Piccadilly Gardens Manchester, the guys from King William IV Angling Society, Lower Memorial Park Failsworth

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Street Life: Rain, rain go away…

In the olden days there was imagination. ‘Creativity’ was yet to be invented (possibly by Blue Peter). Indoor play took place in living rooms, consequently adults preferred activities that kept us sitting quietly at the table.

Many people have fond memories of Meccano, but mine are of Bayko. The construction set was the brain child of Charles Plimpton, and took its name from Bakelite, an early form of plastic, patented by Dr. Baekeland in 1907. Due to manufacturing difficulties, shades of brown were all that could be achieved initially, but by the 1950s the colours of Bayko’s miniature architecture were as bright as could be wished for.Buildings were created by sliding the modular brick tiles, windows and doors between metal rods inserted into a base. The only down side was that our creations had to be dismantled when the table was needed for meals.

Austerity was gradually receding and games like draughts, bagatelle and blow football were appearing in the shops again, as was the most prized of all – a compendium of games. Those games required at least two players, so a solitary child complaining about being bored, might receive the suggestion ‘go and find that lovely scrapbook Auntie Doris gave you’. Dutifully cutting up old greetings cards or coloured pictures from magazines, we stuck them in with flour-and-water paste.

Wartime paper shortages had put an end to cigarette cards but, in the 50s, Brooke Bond satisfied our collecting fever with their colourful tea cards. My favourite set was ‘Birds of the British Isles’, the dilemma was how to display them? To stick the cards in ‘that lovely scrapbook’ meant losing the description on the reverse. The alternative was buying a postal order to send away for the official album. This was a significant purchase when ‘poundage’, equivalent to a week’s sweet money, was added to the cost of a postal order’s face value.

Felt tips were things of the future and drawing or even scrap paper was rarely available. To us, crayoning and painting was simply filling in the outlines of a colouring book. Our paints came in a flat tin box containing small blocks of solid colour with names such as Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna. Despite their exotic names the colours were disappointingly insipid, as were the chalks used on our slates and blackboards.

Possibly my most favourite presents ever were two McCall ‘Make It’ books. For many years I had to be content to simply read about the mysterious ingredients necessary for making a chemical garden. The stamp pads, glue, felt and glitter demanded for other McCall projects were less exotic, but they were still not common in our utilitarian world.Kids used to being feral soon tired of sedentary pastimes and brought scaled-down versions of outdoor games inside. In true wartime ‘make do and mend’ style we used our family’s laundry basket, a wooden crate with sturdy rope handles which normally lived under the kitchen table. On rainy days it could be transformed into a pirate ship or stagecoach under attack from ‘red Indians’, or anything else our imagination conjured up.

Two chairs and a blanket made a tent, and with milk and a few biscuits we were happy for a while. A table covered with the ubiquitous chenille cloth made a fine den. Sometimes adults forgot we were there and would discuss subjects not normally considered suitable for ‘little pigs with big ears’.

Every house had a button-box whose contents could be raided for games of shop and the like. We also used buttons to play a sort of tiddlywinks game. Each player chose a button to propel other, usually smaller, ones along the floor. The winner was the person whose buttons got to the edge of the carpet in the fewest number of ‘flips’.

Airfix kits were a popular pastime, but a cheaper way of making models was the cut-out books available in local newsagents. There was a whole range of these roughly A4-size publications containing brightly coloured things to make. They ranged from model vehicles to ‘dressing up’ dolls.Time and patience was required for the fiddly cutting out in those pre-sellotape days, when a slip of the scissors could spell disaster. The figures came printed on thin card and the paper outfits had small tabs which folded around the doll to keep them in place. My sister and I often combined forces to act out plays with our dolls as the characters.

Such ephemera ought to be long gone but my daughter, aged 47, is now the custodian of the family collection of cut-out dolls, complete with repairs done with 50’s sticking plaster or ancient sellotape.

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