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Rochdale extends its Swim Academy partnership with STA

link4life swim academy staThe Link4Life Swim Academy in Rochdale has extended its partnership with STA, the world's largest independent swimming teaching and lifesaving association, after seeing a 30% increase in swimming enrolments over the last 3 years.

In 2012 Link4Life became one of the first local authorities in the country to adopt STA's Swim Academy business model, which was designed with the aim of helping leisure operators raise teaching standards and increase swimming participation, all while reducing operational costs.

John Matson, Head of Sport and Leisure from Link4Life, has signed the new 3-year partnership agreement because he says STA's swim academy model has played a key part in Link4Life's success over the last 3 years.

Natural Makers

natural-makers-launch12 December 2015 - 27 February 2016

Natural Makers brings together the work of four contemporary artists based in the UK, who take inspiration from the land and the act of making. Using found and natural materials, organic forms and traditional skills, each has developed unique making processes to produce works that are both timeless and contemporary.

Stuart Cairns is a trained silversmith who has re-appropriated these techniques within his practice. Combining precious metals, found materials and twigs collected during coastal walks in Northern Ireland, Cairns creates small artefacts that resemble utensils and tableware. Cairns refers to his recent works as ‘3d sketches’, interested in what makes an object complete. His work here suggests a tactile set of familiar domestic objects, whilst also carrying a sense of danger and distance as a result of their clinical presentation and makeshift assembly.

Laura Ellen Bacon uses complex techniques of twisting, knotting and weaving natural willow cane to produce nest-like forms and sculptural installations that seem to pour, climb and ramble, their free-form presence both beautiful and ominous. Bacon’s sculptures are often site-specific interventions, disrupting and becoming part of the environment into which they are situated, connecting her work directly with the natural environment and its architectural context.

Council’s Christmas and New Year service changes

Rochdale Borough Council has announced details of opening times and service changes over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

A number of non-critical services will not be available from 6pm on Christmas Eve until Monday 4 January, although emergency phonelines will be in operation throughout.

If you need to contact the council urgently during the holidays the emergency telephone number is 0300 303 8875.

If you are telephoning with a non-urgent enquiry, their contact centre will be open (excluding the Bank Holidays) from 8am to 4pm on 29, 30 and 31 December. You can report a wide range of different issues at

Libraries and customer service points are open as usual up to Thursday 24 December 2015 and then closed until the week starting Monday 4 January 2016.

Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival sees record ticket sales

festival-boosts-rochdaleThis year’s Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival is being hailed as the best yet with record ticket sales of 1,688 and a £50,000 boost for local businesses.

Ticket sales were the highest in the Rochdale Borough Council festival’s three-year history, with hundreds more attending un-ticketed events throughout the weekend and preview shows earlier in October. Revenue from ticket sales was £8,800 compared to £3,500 in 2014 and spending by festival-goers in the town is estimated at £48,280.

A new ‘early bird’ ticket offer, which knocked 40% off all tickets purchased in August, was a big hit and accounted for 38% of sales. 

Four shows sold out and the festival also helped to bring the arts to new audiences, with 27% of visitors questioned saying they hadn’t attended a literature-related event before. It also helped to bring new visitors to Rochdale as 37% said they were not regular visitors to the town centre.The festival attracted visitors from across the north west region and beyond, with people coming from as far as Cambridge.

Rochdale’s ancient Egyptian artefacts on display at national show

canopic-jarsA new major exhibition Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt is to go on show at Two Temple Place (London) in the New Year, bringing national acclaim to artefacts gathered from different collections around the UK, many reunited for the first time since their discovery.

Beyond Beauty will show the ancient Egyptians at their most spectacular. Jewellery, mirrors, hairpins, scent bottles and makeup provide an insight into some surprisingly familiar daily routines and the ever changing styles of the time. Meanwhile, rare surviving imagery on exquisite painted coffins, decorated funerary masks, delicate figurines and beautifully carved reliefs will all be displayed together at Two Temple Place, London; a specialist museum for Egyptology. Through artefacts spanning over four millennia, from 3,500 B.C. to 400 A.D., we can find out why Egyptians cared so much about transforming the way they looked by the objects they left behind.

Big crowds watch Rochdale's Christmas lights switch on

big-crowds-switch-onIt started to look a lot like Christmas this weekend when the Christmas lights switch-on took place in front of a packed crowd by Rochdale Town Hall.

Well over 1,000 people attended the event which featured on-stage entertainment, food and drink. Earlier in the day a very popular festive indoor market was held and the Town Hall was lit in spectacular colours, providing a vivid backdrop for the evening featuring top local acts, including X Factor star Danny Dearden, singers Gem O'Reilly and Katie O'Malley. Hopwood Hall College drama students got the crowd in a spin with their version of Rockin around the Christmas Tree, and Turners Dance Studio performed festive routines and a groovy Austin Powers themed dance! Wardle Community Brass Band played Christmas favourites and the show was hosted by David Ditchfield from Revolution 96.2.

Father Christmas made a guest appearance, appearing on the Town Hall balcony before making his way to the stage and players from Rochdale Hornets and Desmond the Dragon from Rochdale AFC also took part in the celebrations.

Just after 6pm the lights were switched on by The Mayor Councillor Surinder Biant and Father Christmas.

The Mayor, Councillor Surinder Biant, said: "The crowds were fantastic, our Town Hall looked stunning and the evening had a really family feel to it. It's a community event and was very special, all our performers were superb and the atmosphere was perfect. The children definitely enjoyed it. It's a nice thing to do with all the family and that's what it's all about."

Local youngsters played a special part in the celebration, bringing Christmas lanterns to create a sea of light in the crowds.

Touchstones Arts and Heritage Centre arranged for an artist to capture the evening on canvas. Once complete the artwork will be on show across the town.

As the lights twinkled after the big switch on the evening ended with a firework display. Thanks to Hurstwood Holdings they were set off from the roof of No2 The Esplanade (The Old Post Office).

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council 24/11/15.

Santa Claus is coming to Touchstones Rochdale

santa s grotto touchstonesSanta Claus is coming to town, so come and take part in the family festive fun. Filled with magic, excitement and an enchanting atmosphere, this year's Santa's Grotto at Touchstones Rochdale is a very merry must.

Although Santa will be very busy preparing for Christmas Eve, he will be taking a couple days off to visit the Museum on Saturday 5 December. Come and meet the elves who will help you have some creative fun. Place your wish on the Christmas tree before meeting Santa in his magical Grotto, where he will tell you a Christmas tale. There will be plenty of time for you to take photos and each child will receive a gift to take home.

This event is suitable for all ages but spaces are limited and booking is essential. £8 per child (includes gift). Timeslots are every 40 minutes from 10am-4pm. Bookings can be made in person or by telephone to Rochdale Visitor Information Centre 01706 924928 (Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm). (Please note we are unable to change bookings once they have been made or to offer refunds due to Santa's popularity).

Touchstones Rochdale is managed by the Link4Life Cultural Trust and is located on The Esplanade, Rochdale, OL16 1AQ. We are open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission is free.

We will remember – crowds expected for Remembrance services

remembrance 2015 poppy with prideResidents can pay their respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the country at Remembrance Day Services across the borough on Sunday 8 November.

Representatives from the Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will join veterans and civic dignitaries for the parades, which will take place in Rochdale, Heywood, Littleborough, Middleton, Milnrow and Wardle. Members of the public are all invited to attend.

The Mayor, Councillor Surrinder Biant, said: "We owe our service personnel a great debt, they serve us and in return we should support them. I hope as many people as possible will join us for these ceremonies."

And at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (Wednesday 11 November) the Mayor will lead a two-minute silence, with prayers given by Reverend Canon Shackleton, at the town's war memorial opposite Rochdale Town Hall in The Esplanade.

Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival celebrates record numbers

rochdalelitfest-ledererRecord crowds turned out this weekend to watch top names including Dom Jolly, Helen Lederer and David Starkey take part in Rochdale’s third annual Literature and Ideas Festival.

More than 2,000 tickets were sold, the most in Rochdale Literature Festival history, with hundreds more attending unticketed events throughout the weekend and earlier in October at over 30 venues across the borough.

The festival proved a big hit, with sold out performances on each day of the event, which took place from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 October.

Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “I attended many inspiring events throughout the weekend and am incredibly proud to say that this fantastic cultural event gets better and better each year. To attract such big names is a great coup for our borough and something we’re really proud of. We’ve had some incredible feedback from people who attended, with visitors using words like ‘inspirational’, ‘mind expanding’, ‘emotional’ and ‘hilarious’ to describe the many events. I’d like to thank all the festival staff, volunteers and local arts groups, who put together this stand-out celebration of culture, arts and ideas.”

A record number of visitors celebrate Heritage Open Days

hare-hill-houseThe results are in for this year's Heritage Open Days celebration and an amazing 4,372 recorded visitors across 44 different venues or activities across the Rochdale borough, organisers have declared it a best ever year to date!

Co-ordinated nationally by the Heritage Open Days National Partnership and locally by Link4Life Arts and Heritage Service and Rochdale Borough Council, now in its 21st year, the campaign celebrated 'opening the doors' of buildings which normally charge for entrance or which are not usually open to the public taking part in this free festival. Run by local enthusiasts and volunteers, it is a chance to enjoy events and activities which bring to life local history and culture.