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Council Shows Flair Over Solar Farm Build

solar-panelsRochdale Borough Council has begun building the first publicly owned solar farm in Greater Manchester to help cement its desire to become the 'greenest' authority in Britain.

Construction of a 250kW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm has started on around one acre of contaminated land behind Rochdale Leisure Centre, on Entwistle Road. The solar farm will operate for up to 25 years and will then be decommissioned or the panels will be replaced.

Work has also begun on adding the council-owned 100kw rooftop solar panels to Heywood Sports Village. The electricity generated from both the Rochdale and Heywood solar panels will be sold back to Link4Life to power the sports complexes.

The solar farms are being built by Southern Solar, whose managing director Howard Johns attended the turf cutting. The council has received technical support from Robin Dummet, of Novus Solar Development.

Councillor Richard Farnell, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Faced with making savings of £51m over the next two years, we needed to come up with imaginative solutions in tough economic times and come up with an alternative as traditional energy sources become scarcer.

"Options for this site were limited, due to its former use as a waste disposal site and contamination present, so the solar farm has allowed the council to turn this land from a liability to a productive asset."

Mark Widdup, Director of Economy and Environment for Rochdale Borough Council, said: "We are leading the way as a 'green' authority and this solar farm will not only bring in revenue for the authority but help us become more energy self-sufficient in a time where fuel bills are on the rise."

Mr Johns said: "We are very excited to be involved with such a forward thinking project and a proactive council."

Each year the council uses 27.5GWh of electricity to power buildings and offices. The 2012-2013 cost was £2.8m, excluding street lighting and leisure sites. Its annual Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) tax bill in 2013/14 was £272,000.

As part of the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy, Rochdale Borough Council has agreed to a 48 per cent CO2 emission cut by 2020. Rochdale Green Action Plan is the council's overarching sustainability strategy.

By harvesting its own source of renewable energy, including wind and solar energy, Rochdale Borough Council could generate new multi-million-pound revenue streams, fund municipal services, put land assets to work, underwrite energy security and offset soaring energy prices, as well as fulfil its renewable power and carbon reduction obligations.

A pilot turbine on the site of the former Hill Top School in Kirkholt, has been generating electricity since April and plans have been submitted for two more council-owned wind farms in Hopwood.

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council 19/09/14.

Ninety day fitness plan is one just for the girls

one-for-the-girlsA new low cost fitness plan being advertised as 'one just for the girls' has been launched by Link4Life as part of a National Lottery funded, London 2012 project.

'Ninety days for only £19.50' is the invitation going out to young woman in the borough aged 16-25 to take advantage of fitness facilities at Link4Life centres boroughwide from October.

It is all part of a £56 million national programme called Sportivate designed to give more young people the chance to discover a sport that they love. The programme gives young people, who are not particularly sporty, free or subsidised access to a range of sports.

Link4Life Sportivate Co-ordinator Scott Hardy announcing 'The 90 Day Workout' said, "In partnership with Link4Life Fitness we have developed this great offer that aims to get young women into regular exercise. For just over 20p a day it offers gym, classes and swimming."

The 90 Day Workout is available seven days a week, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and any time at weekends. Contact your local participating Link4Life Fitness centre at Rochdale Leisure Centre (01706 924200), Littleborough Sports Centre (01706 927560), Middleton Arena (01706 923170) and Heywood Sports Village (01706 927202) for further details.

Sportivate launched in June 2011 as a four-year programme aimed at 11-25 year-olds but, due to its success, additional Lottery funding of £10m per year has been invested allowing the programme to run until March 2017. The Sportivate programme in the Rochdale Borough is organised by Link4Life in collaboration with Greater Sport and Sport England.

Heritage Saturday at Touchstones brings the past to life

A successful Heritage Open Days festival at Touchstones Rochdale brought people out in their hundreds to take part in this free open weekend designed to get people exploring and enjoying local heritage throughout the country.

A jam packed 'Heritage Saturday' included specially organised talks and tours as well as a visit from what is probably Britain's smallest motor museum.

Packed full of over 50 years of memories, the Yelloway Motor Coach Museum captures the times when up until the late 1980s this town centre based company took residents on day trips and holidays up and down the country. Tickets, toys, uniforms, posters and photos were just some of the memorabilia on display. Two of the many people taking the chance to relive old memories were Constance and Dave Dale. "We actually met for the first time on a Yelloway bus", said Dave, "and this really takes us back to all those family trips growing up. It's been great to see this here today."

The sculptured friezes on the outside of the Touchstones Grade II listed building date back to the early 1900s and a fully booked session by Leeds University Classics expert, Dr Emma Stafford left the audience eager for more. In an illustrated talk, Dr Stafford took the audience back to the days of Ancient Greece and to other important sculptures on buildings such as St George's Hall in Liverpool, designed by the same renowned British sculptor Charles Allen. Touchstones Education Co-ordinator, Karen Vine said, "It was fascinating to learn the meaning behind the friezes, what each figure stands for and the story they have to tell. It was an inspiring talk and many people have said they would like to find out more. We hope to invite Dr Stafford back for another talk in the new year."

Other activities on the day included a tour of the borough's museum collection going back from almost the present day to include artefacts brought back from Ancient Egypt, a Blue Badge Guided heritage tour of the town centre and a portrait workshop with artist Alan Birch to learn the techniques of etching. In total more than 360 people took part in Touchstones' activities over the three days.

angie walker and venice hansford show off their handiwork dave and constance dale relive yelloway memories  melvyn newman with artist alan birch  the heritage trail sets off from touchstones led by blue badge guide ann thomas 

For details of latest exhibitions and events at Touchstones Rochdale visit

Rochdale Borough celebrates its Sports Achievers at this Year's Awards Ceremony

An audience of over 130 gathered last night (Wednesday 17 September) to hear who would walk away with the prestigious prizes for this year's Rochdale Borough Sports Awards. This Link4Life annual event recognises the achievements during the past year of the many people actively involved in supporting or taking part in sport in the borough.

Hosted at the Rochdale Rugby Union Club, Link4Life Chief Executive, Gillian Bishop greeted the guests with a warm welcome: "Tonight is about celebrating and acknowledging achievements in sport in the borough over the last year. This year marks the 14th Rochdale Borough Community Sports Awards. On behalf of Link4Life, it is an absolute delight to be able to celebrate the success of individual athletes, clubs and volunteers. The passion, week in, week out, all year round is truly admirable." She went on to thank all those who had taken the time to make their nominations, without whom the event would not be possible.

Highly commended and award winners were announced by the evening's MC, Andy Hargreaves with awards to be made in the seven categories of Sports Achiever of the Year, Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Changing Lifestyles Recognition Award, Coach of the Year, Unsung Hero and Club of the Year.

Competition, as usual, was fierce and sports represented included swimming, gymnastics, athletics, archery, handball, badminton, cycling, football, cheerleading and climbing. Disability sports were also represented including boccia, cycling and swimming.

Guest presenters of the awards included the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Carol Wardle, Chair of Link4Life Board of Trustees, Clint Street, Acting Director of Public Health, Wendy Meston, Cabinet Member for Community, Culture and Tourism at Rochdale Borough Council, Councillor Daalat Ali together with sponsors of this year's Volunteer of the Year award, Recruitment Solutions (Northwest) Ltd and Iain Johnstone from Rochdale AFC.

Special guest speaker, Middleton based, Joanna Rowsell MBE shared her experiences of her journey from a 15 year old with no interest in sport to one of Great Britain's shining lights in the world of cycling. Joanna is a member of the Great Britain Cycling Team. She competed at the London 2012 Olympics where she won Gold in the Women's Team Pursuit. She is currently the National, European and World Champion, and also the World Record Holder for this event. On her way to Olympic gold the team set their 6th successive World Record for the 3km event.

Joanna continues to compete on the track and is a five times World Champion - four in the Team Pursuit and one in the Individual Pursuit. She recently won Gold in Glasgow to become Individual Pursuit Commonwealth Games Champion and is now working towards her goal of competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Joanna, 25, continues to ride for Wiggle Honda Women's Pro Cycling Team and competes on the road in both the UK and Europe.

The 'Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year' award was presented by Joanna Rowsell to Boccia player Daniel Wain. In May 2014 Daniel took part in the Great Britain Championships, came top of his group and finished in third place overall. Placed now third in Great Britain he has recently been selected to train towards the Paralympic Games in 2016.

Winner of the 'Sports Achiever of the Year' was Molly Howell who received her award from the Mayor, Councillor Carol Wardle. Molly, just 15 years old, competes at World and National Level and is Captain of the Hollingworth Lake Activity Club, She races for Hollingworth Lake in the North West and Pugneys in the North East and has been on the Royal Yachting Association's Zone Squad. She is also on the list for possible selection to the National squad next season.

'Club of the Year' went to The East Lancashire Road Club. This racing cycling club is a fully inclusive club that has shown massive increase in numbers over the past year and supported the recent Tour de France Grand Depart. Supporting all members, male or female, no matter what their age, their aim is to provide a range of competitions that encourage members to push themselves and have the potential for individual recognition from winning a trophy.

'Coach of the Year' went to Karen Carter. Karen coaches at Middleton Arena with Rochdale Triathlon Club. Karen gives her time every Thursday evening coaching members of all abilities from beginners to intermediate. Karen's social warmth and sensitive approach ensure steady and constant progress so that athletes become confident and talented.

Karen Reynolds and Sheila McQuillam from Recruitment Solutions presented Bryan Woodcock with the 'Volunteer of the Year' award not only for his work at the Rochdale Company of Archers but also at County, Regional and National levels. Bryan is completely devoted to his sport of Archery and when not coaching he can be found doing many other volunteer roles including cleaning, repairing and setting outdoor ranges. Bryan combines this with a full-time job and is currently studying for an Honours Degree in Sport.

The award for 'Unsung Hero' gives special recognition to the person who has made an impact for at least ten years on people, club, school or within the community and this year it went to David Trippier. David started at his club in 1972 at the grand age of 15 and has given over 40 years to the sport of cycling. As Club Secretary of The East Lancs Road Club he is involved in all aspects of the club and has particularly worked to develop the youth and junior team, a ladies only section and a senior racing team. Membership of the club has now grown from just two to over 100 and David has made a huge contribution to this success.

The 'Changing Lifestyle Recognition Award' is a relatively new category which was introduced to acknowledge individuals who have made a significant impact or contribution to improving their health and well-being and the award was won by Roger Varnom. Roger suffered a stroke in 1995 which affected the right side of his body and restricted use of his right arm and leg. Following an eight week rehabilitation session and a twelve week GP referral programme he went on make himself a member of Link4Life Fitness dramatically increasing his personal health and fitness. Whilst continuing at the gym he also attends a Walking Football session and is now a regular player of the Walking Football squad. Roger is a great Ambassador for the Stroke Association.

Adding to the entertainment on the night was a presentation from Link4Life's Arts and Heritage Service with Head of Service, Julian Jefferson talking about sport through the ages and Rochdale Schools Programme facilitator Cat Jessop in character as 'Miss Grimm', the strict school mistress, who took the audience back to the drill classes of the Victorian era. Guests were later brought right up to date with a fantastic demonstration of Spinning delivered by Link4Life fitness instructors Elaine Stott and Shelly Burns. A collection on the evening also raised £166.20 towards the Rochdale Gateway accessible minibus fund.

Rounding up the evening, the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Wardle thanked Link4Life for their work in organising the event and commended all nominees and award winners for their efforts over the year. She said, "It's been a pleasure to be part of this celebration of our sporting achievers and to recognise the efforts of so many people that help to make the borough a better and healthier place for everyone."

Link4Life would welcome sponsors for next year's Awards. Anyone interested in sponsoring a sporting category is asked to contact Julie Durrant at Link4Life on 01706 926201.

Winners of the Rochdale Borough Sports Awards will now go on to represent the borough at the Greater Manchester Sports Awards in November to be held at The Point, Lancashire Cricket Club.

Shelter building and campfire cooking workshops helps children relive lives of WW1 Pals soldiers

team-marine-ismail-aaisha-fathimah-zahra-ibrahi-seherChildren from across Rochdale borough are being given the opportunity to discover what life was like for First World War soldiers who set up the Ealees camp at Hollingworth Lake in 1914.

As part of Rochdale Borough Council's Gone but not Forgotten project, social enterprise NatureEd is providing a series of WW1 re-enactment workshops funded by Heritage Lottery and working in partnership with Link4Life and Rochdale's Countryside Service.

Among those taking part have been 20 young people and four adults from Rochdale Home School Educators Network. They built shelters, cooked trench stew over a camp fire and wrote postcards imagining they were soldiers writing home. Messages included: "To Dad, we all built a den in teams and we made soup and ate it – even me with veg in it."

Also taking part so far are children from St Thomas CE Primary School, Marland Hill Primary School, Holy Trinity CE Primary School and Smithy Bridge Primary School.

For families and friends, there is a public shelter and cooking event during October half term on Wednesday 29 October 11am to 2.30pm. Places are limited so booking is essential on 01706 373421.

Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Feedback from the parents was very positive. The event really inspired the children's interest in the local history of World War One and helped them to connect with the lives of the soldiers in the 1914 Camp in a very real way."

During the late summer of 1914, the Ealees Valley at Hollingworth Lake was transformed into a scene of military activities as the Manchester Territorial Regiments set up a training camp there.

The valley became a sea of tents, crowds of local people came to view the spectacle and visit the men.

Following the outbreak of war in the summer of 1914 the Old Pals battalions were formed and incorporated into the wider Manchester Regiment. They set up camp in the Ealees Valley, with Hollingworth Lake briefly becoming the scene of fervent military activity. The Regiment would go on to fight with great distinction in the French and Middle-Eastern campaigns.

In conjunction with Link4Life, Rochdale Borough Council received £9,800 in funding from English Heritage for the Gone Forgotten project, which will encourage and help the local community to commemorate and explore the impact of the First World War.

The children's camps are some of a host of events across the borough this year commemorating the sacrifice of British service personnel. To find out more visit

Rochdale was one of the first councils in the country to sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant, aimed at encouraging local communities to support services that promote and encourage activities that help integrate Armed Forces personnel back into civilian life.

'See with new eyes' as latest exhibition 'Sanctuary' brings the art of Asia to Touchstones Rochdale

rosa-nguyen-sanctuary-2014An exhibition inspired by Japanese gardens and the Japanese art of flower arranging opens at Touchstones Rochdale on Friday 26 September as part of a major festival of Asian art, Asia Triennial Manchester 2014.

Artist Rosa Nguyen specialises in glass and ceramics and her work features in national and international public collections. Her contemplative large-scale installations are influenced by direct interaction with living things, through pruning and topiary, and the stylized conventions of 'ikebana', the Japanese discipline of flower arranging.

'Sanctuary' is Rosa Nguyen's latest installation. Set in groups, hand-made ceramic and glass vessels of different sizes and textures interconnect with living and dried plants to form a spiritual connection with the beauty of nature.

A mixture of natural and artificial light is used to create a dream-like quality based on the principal of 'mitate', meaning to 'see with new eyes'. An element of Japanese culture, mitate encourages the viewer to look at familiar objects in a new and different way in order to renew their meaning and experience.

Renowned international artist Rosa Nguyen has been commissioned by Link4Life's Arts and Heritage Service to create this new large-scale work as part of Asia Triennial Manchester 2014. A celebration of visual art and culture from the Asia diaspora, this major initiative led by the Manchester School of Art is the only festival of its kind outside the Asia Pacific region. It returns to Manchester for the third time at the end of September and runs until the end of November. More information can be found at .

Link4Life's Art Gallery Officer, Yvonne Hardman, curator of the exhibition, said, "Sanctuary creates a beautiful and meditative landscape within the gallery's largest exhibition space linked to the festival theme of conflict and compassion. We're thrilled to be an Asia Triennial Manchester 2014 partner and bring Rosa's work to the borough. To be part of such a prestigious festival continues to build the reputation that Touchstones Rochdale is developing for bringing exciting new and contemporary art to the region."

An opportunity to meet the artist and to explore the ideas behind the exhibition is also available with a special workshop to be held at Touchstones Rochdale on Saturday 27 September. Suitable for ages 16 and over it is a chance to create a personal landscape inspired by the art of ikebana. Places are free and must be booked in advance by ringing 01706 924492.

Touchstones Rochdale is located in Rochdale town centre five minutes from the bus and metro stations by foot. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, admission is free and facilities include a café and shop. Details of current exhibitions and events are available online at