Celebration time for Fourteen

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Jane said I only had to say a few words about this blog but now I’m up on stage compèring the whole event.

She’s prepared a script so I start with that. It’s the last time I stick to it all evening. “Welcome and thanks for coming. Tonight is all about celebrating the amazing achievements made by local people, helped along by funding from the Fourteen programme through Spirit of 2012.”

We’re at The Miners in Moston and the place is buzzing with people from different groups across Harpurhey and Moston. Community co-ordinator Jane Ellis is up on stage too – a first, she says as she invites Helen and Graeme of Forever Manchester to the microphone.

“What I love about Harpurhey and Moston are the people who have the passion for this community and who want to get involved to make a difference,” says Helen. “So thank you for your involvement and thank you for coming along tonight.”

Graeme tells us how his role as Community Builder has been a real pleasure. “I’m not going to mention all the 60-odd projects we’ve funded,” he says, “but they range from a youth leadership programme to using hanging baskets to bring people together on a local estate and much more.”

We’ve got a packed programme for the night and young filmmakers Josh and David from Modify Productions come and tell us about the film they’ve produced about all the positive goings-on in north Manchester. They’re back here on Tuesday night with the premiere.

“I’d like to officially present Trish with the Another Music blog,” I say once I’ve explained how this blog will now be written totally by the local community, another of many legacies of the Fourteen programme. “Has anyone got a camera?” I ask as Barbara jumps up to snap us with an oversized computer screen. Thanks Barbara.

Local singer-songwriter Tyler J Bolton provides the first of our musical interludes followed by the Amani Choir whose 20-odd singers just about fit on stage.

“This is about bringing different communities together,” says Emmanuela by way of introduction. “At Amani Creatives we use art to create social change by providing opportunities like this choir.”

Following the wonderful performances including exquisite solos I encourage Barbara from Creative Community up on her feet. She’s keen to explain how Fourteen funding helped her weekly art group.

“Everyone knows that fundraising these days is difficult, so being awarded a grant for equipment and materials lightened, quite frankly, a heavy load,” she says.

Jane’s next up, telling us about the literally life-saving work of the Frank Cohen Centre on Moston Lane. She’s been instrumental in supporting this alcohol addiction service which is close to her heart. “I can barely find the words to explain their impact on people’s lives,” she says.

After the Tai Chi demonstration by 75-year-old David who gets everyone on their feet for a warm-up – this is no ordinary evening out – I encourage our host to the stage.

“I call you the Modest Man of Moston Louis because you get on and do all this stuff and you don’t shout about it,” I say. “You’ve won some awards haven’t you?”

“The first one we won was the Forever Manchester Most Inspirational Project, that was the best one, wasn’t it Paula?” We encourage Louis’ partner on stage. “Before that we’d never had any praise for anything. Then we won the Manchester Proud Awards for Best Community Project and the Best of the Best.” Whoops and cheers all round.

Jane finally thanks everyone for coming and announces Louis’ famous pies are being served. Phew.

I leave Moston full of meat pie and pleased I didn’t make a total fool of myself on stage, with a twinge or two of sadness as my time with the Fourteen programme and the Another Music blog is now over.

Over the last 15 months I have met, and written about, some amazing local people selflessly working hard, with dwindling resources, for the benefit of others.

It makes me cross to read negative stories in the local news about an area which is so rich in positivity and pride. Can those journalists not get from behind their computer screens and come and see what’s really going on here? Or at least read Another Music for some inspiration!