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Beacon to light night sky in Rochdale on 8 May

beacon-to-light-night-skyRochdale Cenotaph opposite the town hall has been chosen for the location of a beacon that will mark a very special Second World War anniversary in May.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that the Rochdale borough is one of just 100 areas around the United Kingdom chosen to light a beacon on 8 May to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day - when the Second World War came to an end in Europe.

The commemorations, organised by the government will see one of the 100 sites light the first beacon as the sun goes down, after which the other areas will light their flames in a chain.

VE Day was the day 70 years ago when peace broke out and brought an end to nearly 6 years of war and carnage. The announcement was followed by nation-wide celebrations in the streets, a spirit Rochdale hopes to recreate on the anniversary.

Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces at Rochdale Borough Council said the borough couldn't let the day pass without reflecting on the sacrifice, courage and determination of the people who saw us through this dark period:

"VE Day this year should be a celebration of peace ... a time to remember and pay tribute to all those who played their part in achieving it. Being chosen as one of the hundred towns and cities is an acknowledgment of our continuing work in the borough and the support we give to the Armed Forces family. We are locating our beacon at the administrative centre of the borough. I hope residents will come down to the Cenotaph and remember the sacrifices made for the freedom we enjoy today."

The beacon in Rochdale will be lit at 9:32 pm on Friday 8 May. Residents from across the borough are invited to attend.

Those not able to attend are encouraged to hold their own VE Day celebrations and local churches are being asked to ring their bells to mark the lighting of the beacon.

Lancashire Veterans Association will hold a service at the Heywood Garden of Remembrance on the day at 12 noon.

Rochdale was one of the first councils in the country to sign the Armed Forces Community Covenant in November 2012, aimed at encouraging local communities to support services that promote and encourage activities that help integrate Armed Forces personnel back into civilian life. It also encourages authorities to work more closely to support those in service and their families, ensuring there is no disadvantage associated with serving in the Armed Forces.

On Sunday 28 June the council will unveil a memorial stone to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in Rochdale Memorial Gardens during a special Gallipoli Commemoration Event.

For more details visit

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council 27/03/15.

Getting FiT in Middleton Arena

middleton-arena-solar-panelsGym-goers, thespians and swimming stars will soon be enjoying cleaner, greener energy when they visit Middleton Arena thanks to the installation of 1000 solar panels.

During 2014, Rochdale Borough Council built Greater Manchester's first publically owned solar farm behind Rochdale Leisure Centre as part of its aim to become the 'greenest' authority in the country. The new photovoltaic panels, being installed on the roof of the Middleton Arena this week, are expected to cement this desire by generating a further 194MWh of electricity each year – around 10% to 15% of the Arena's power usage and enough to save 102 tonnes of CO2 a year.

The solar panels will be connected directly into the Arena and the electricity generated from Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton solar panels sold back to Link4Life to power the sports complexes. This means the council and Link4Life benefit from the Feed in Tariff (FiT) – providing a guaranteed income per kWh of electricity generated. The tariff will provide an on-going financial boost and will help the council to protect vital frontline services.

Councillor Richard Farnell, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: "We are leading the way as a 'green' authority and this solar farm is another step towards meeting our goal. By being forward-thinking, we have ensured the council has an additional revenue stream and can become more energy self-sufficient in a time where fuel bills are on the rise."

Chief Executive, Gillian Bishop at Link4Life confirmed the benefits the new initiative will bring. She said: "Link4Life has a robust energy reduction programme and this latest improvement at Middleton Arena plays an important part in supporting that. The benefits that come from reduced costs support continued investment and improvement in the services we provide."

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 – which highlights a strong ambition to work with green energy generators. It is hoped that encouraging such long-term investments will create new jobs and set Rochdale as Greater Manchester's green energy hub.

By generating income from renewable energy, Rochdale Borough Council could generate new 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.

Each year the council uses 27.5GWh of electricity to power buildings and offices. The 2013-2014 cost was £3.1m, excluding street lighting and leisure sites. The council-owned solar farms behind Rochdale Leisure Centre and at Heywood Sports Village have been operational since October last year.

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council.

Heart screening event raises awareness of young sudden cardiac death

tombolaOver 200 14-35 year olds have taken part in a free cardiac screening event held at Heywood Civic Centre.

Organised by the friends and family of Thomas Hardman, who died suddenly in his sleep in November 2012 aged 21, the event aimed to raise awareness of the 12 young people who die suddenly each week in the UK due to previously undetected heart problems.

Doctors and specialists worked tirelessly throughout the two-day event to carry out Electrocardiogram (ECG) testing. The test is painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes to perform and is a potential lifesaver.

Over £500 was raised for the charity CRY - Cardiac Risk in the Young – and Tom's mother, Margaret Hardy offered her thanks to all the many people who have fundraised and donated time and money to the charity in her son's memory including the Heywood based Willows Bistro who volunteered to provide a complimentary meal for all the medical staff involved in supporting the event.

She said: "On behalf of myself, Richard, Scott and family we would like to say a massive thank you to Link4Life and everyone who helped us to arrange the CRY screening event. It was a huge success and everyone was so grateful to have the chance to be checked out. CRY said it was the best screening for a long time and commented on the tremendous community spirit and overall support of everyone involved."

Information on other screening events and the work of CRY can be found on their website at 

The fundraising will continue with a charity run to be held on Saturday, 4 April. The second TH96 Charity Run which last year raised more than £10,000 will visit four cricket clubs in keen bowler and batsman Tom Hardman's honour. To register to enter email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Easter Holiday Club at Middleton Arena

Middleton Arena has put on a fantastic programme of activities this Easter.

The 'Go4it' programme includes: Junior Lifeguard Taster Course - a brand new survival and rescue taster programme that has been specifically created for young people aged 8 years. The 6 day course allows young people to gain important lifesaving skills in a fun environment. Parent and Toddler swimming sessions are on offer as well as Family Aqua Fun sessions, which provides a fun splash session with floats and play equipment.

Come and take part in Mini – Madness a creative Easter themed arts and crafts session. Elsewhere, there are a variety of sports sessions on offer for all ages. These include: Active Kids for the 5-7 year olds, Sports Zone, Trampolining and Fit & Fun for the 8-12 year olds.

Also, why not try our Football Coaching session where you will learn new skills and practice techniques in a fun and enjoyable way – playing mini games and challenges all delivered by our qualified coaches.

There is something special for everyone - so come along and have lots of Easter fun.

For details of the full programme and swimming pool opening times contact Middleton Arena on 0161 662 4000 or visit .

Easter Holiday Club at Rochdale Leisure Centre

go4it logoEaster is here again and Rochdale Leisure Centre has put on an action packed programme of activities for children to enjoy throughout the school holidays.

Come and take part in Street Dance - a class packed full of fun and funky moves for you to have a great time and get moving. There are a variety of sports sessions on offer for all ages. These include: Mini Madness and Active Kids for the 5-7 year olds, Sports Zone, Trampolining for the 8-12 year olds, and Youth Gym for ages 13+. Special to Rochdale Leisure Centre this Easter is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a taster session delivered by Rocha Jiu Jitsu Club. A must try!

Go4it and Link4Life's Disability holiday programme Sunsport have joined forces for the first time over the holidays and will be putting on a joint programme for disabled and non-disabled young people. With fully qualified sports coaches and support workers delivering on the programme, this is a unique opportunity for children of all abilities to come together and have fun - Because You Can in Sport. The session will take place in Kingsway Sports Centre on Thursday 9 April and Rochdale Leisure Centre on Thursday 16 April (Swimming kit required). For more information and to book please contact: Gemma on 01706 924234 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

There really is something special for everyone - so come along and have lots of Easter fun.

For full details of the programme and swimming pool opening times contact Rochdale Leisure Centre on 01706 926000 or visit .

Packed Easter Holiday Programme at Heywood Sports Village

go4it logoHeywood Sports Village has put on a fantastic programme of activities this Easter.

The 'Go4it' pool programme includes: Link4Life Swim Academy Courses - 4 day and 5 day courses with the STA (Swimming Teachers Association) focusing on the fundamentals of swimming. Parent and Toddler swimming sessions are on offer as well as Family Aqua Fun sessions, which provides a fun splash session with floats and play equipment.

New to the Heywood's Easter programme is ''Tracing Step' - an exciting opportunity to take part in dance, drama and performing arts delivered by Tracing Step Theatre and Dance Company. Also, if you like to sing and dance, why not come along to Heywood's Village Glee session!

Football Friday Camps are on for both weeks which is an open Football session for young people 13+. The ATP will be open every Friday for you and your mates to come down and play football!

You can also take part in Mini – Madness which is an Easter themed arts and crafts session, as well as fun multi-sports and splash session. A variety of energetic sports sessions on offer for all ages. These include: Active Kids for the 5-7 year olds, Sports Zone, Trampolining and Fit & Fun for the 8-12 year olds. There is something special for everyone - so come along and have lots of Easter fun.

For details of the full programme and swimming pool opening times contact Heywood Sports Village on 01706 924000 or visit

Rochdale Half Marathon, 10K and fun run this August

rochdale half marathonRochdale will stage a Half Marathon, 10K and 1 Mile Fun Run for the first time in August.

The new event will be staged on Sunday 23 August and opens for entrants at 9am on Saturday 21 March.

Runners will get on their marks by Rochdale Town Hall and set out on traffic-free courses taking in town and countryside.

All races start and finish by the famous town hall. The 10K route leaves the Esplanade along Entwisle road, before heading towards Milnrow via Albert Royds Street. It then heads up Buckley Lane, turning near its end before returning to Rochdale Town Hall. The half marathon does the same route except the turning point is further down Buckley lane and it's a two lap course, making pacing easier. The fun run is a flat, fast one mile, accessible to runners of all abilities, heading out along Entwisle Road and turning just after Rochdale Leisure Centre.

Councillor Janet Emsley, Cabinet Member for Community, Culture and Tourism said it will be one of the highlights of the borough's sporting calendar: "This is a really exciting new event for Rochdale, having 3 races on the same day, starting and finishing by our stunning town hall. Much planning has gone into the routes, presenting really varied traffic free courses and a real quality event. Following on from Rochdale hosting a game in the Rugby League World Cup in 2013 and Le Tour de France last year this is another great opportunity to showcase the borough at its best."

The event is being staged by Rochdale Borough Council in partnership with leading race organiser Cannonball Events.
John Lloyd from Cannonball Events said: "We have been looking to organise a Half Marathon in the region for some time and I'm really pleased we're now able to bring this new event to Rochdale. It's a scenic route encompassing urban areas, historic landmarks and beautiful scenery. I want this race to be one that people will be excited about and become a must do event on the running calendar."

Early booking is advised as just 1000 places will be available for the Half Marathon, 1000 for the 10K and 500 for the fun run. All three races will be available to enter online at from 9am on Saturday 21 March.

All routes are chip timed, fully marshalled, signed and will have water stations at regular intervals. There will be a free medal, T-shirt and goody bag for finishers.

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council.

Rich Hall's Middleton date rescheduled

rich hallDeadpan comic Rich Hall's Middleton Arena show has been moved to Thursday 18 June, due to his appearance on Channel 4's Comedy Gala in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. The quick witted star of television shows including 'QI' and 'Live at the Apollo' had been due to perform in Middleton on 15 May, the same night as the mammoth televised comedy fundraiser at the o2 Arena in London.

Existing tickets will be valid for the new Thursday 18 June 2015 date, although refunds are available for ticketholders who cannot attend the new date. Please contact Middleton Arena on 0844 855 4020 or visit their box office in person.

Renowned for his expertly crafted tirades, quick fire banter and delightful musical sequences Rich won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 2000 and has been charming audiences around the world ever since. He's recently starred in the critically acclaimed BBC documentaries 'Rich Hall's Continental Drifters' and 'How The West Was Lost' and he's always a popular guest on panel shows such as 'Mock the Week', '8 out of 10 cats' and 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks'.

Rich Hall - '3:10 to Humour' visits Middleton Arena at 8pm on Thursday 18 June. A small number of tickets are still available for the new date from or by calling 0844 855 4020.

Rochdale's high flying women show they're the business

international-womens-daySuccessful women from across Rochdale got together to share advice and inspirational stories for an event to mark International Women's Day.

Around 70 women attended the Women in Business Event at Hopwood Hall College, which was organised by Rochdale Borough Council and specialist local business advisors Blue Orchid.

The event was set up to celebrate successful women and encourage more of them to go into business after figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) revealed that they make up just one third of entrepreneurs in the UK.

During the day successful local women took to the stage to talk to the audience about how they built their impressive careers.

Among them were Gillian Bishop, CEO of Link4Life, which delivers leisure and cultural services on behalf of the council. Gillian became the youngest Chief Executive in the country when she was appointed to run Allerdale Borough Council in 2005 at the age of 33.

She told the audience that she'd learned vital skills along the way including the importance of setting personal goals, being flexible while staying focussed and treating other people well.

Other speakers included Ruth Yasmeen, Managing Director of Spidervision Productions, whose short film Three Brothers about three South Asian boys growing up in modern Britain was nominated for a BAFTA earlier this year.

Ruth said she wanted to mine the talent in the UK to bridge the gulf between the British film industry and Bollywood, and that she's determined to win a BAFTA for her next film. Ruth is a former social worker, who made a big career change by going into the media. She now has a strong reputation in India, the UK and Pakistan as a screenwriter and producer.

Julie Bowmer, who was named Rochdale Businesswoman of the year in 2014, manages five companies ranging from Food Distributions to Engineering, Accountancy, IT and Property. She told the audience about the importance of taking risks and not being afraid of failure.

Liz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton, and Helen Skidmore, from the council's public health team, also spoke about their career journeys, their inspiration and the skills they have picked up along the way.

The audience, which included solicitors, accountants and graphic designers, also took part in a raffle to win an M&S hamper, which raised money for the Rochdale Women's Welfare Association.

Susan Ayres, Head of Economic Affairs at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Women in Business was a fantastic event which showcased the huge amount and varied nature of female business talent we have here in Rochdale borough. We are grateful to all the speakers for sharing their experiences and the advice they offered to others to help more women succeed in business."

Councillor Peter Williams, Cabinet Member for Business and Skills at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "It's really important that we celebrate and support these local women who have achieved so much. Strong leaders benefit the whole of the community by bringing in the skills and investment which will drive our borough forward. The council has a range of support available to local businesses, including Blue Orchid, which provides expert advice to help people start and grow their business."

Anyone who would like to access support from Blue Orchid can contact them on 01706 515710.

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council.

Roll of honour remembers our fallen heroes

Paul Hanson (left) with Councillor Alan McCarthy and the Roll of Honour.The names and details of over 2,500 men who died in the First World War have been published on a roll of honour.

Local newspaper The Rochdale Observer has researched and published the records of the men who fought in the 1914 -18 war. The list details the name of each man, their age, address, the date they died and their local relatives.

The list was compiled by the Observer, alongside local historian Paul Hanson.

Since the initial list first appeared in the newspaper last year, more residents have come forward with stories.

The council's leisure and cultural partner Link4Life have complemented the roll by producing a comprehensive record of the impact of the First World War on the borough.

Councillor Alan McCarthy, Lead Member for the Armed Forces at Rochdale Borough Council said: "We are proud to support this list of local heroes who died while serving their country. It is important that we never forget their sacrifice. I would like to thank those who put the time and effort into compiling this list as a lasting memory to those who fought and died for our freedom. On behalf of the silent, who cannot do so, I'd like to express my gratitude and appreciation of a job well done."

Julian Jefferson, Head of Arts & Heritage at Link4Life said: "Through the Creative Employment Programme scheme we appointed a Local History Intern who has been researching local newspapers to ensure a comprehensive record of the impact of the First World War on the borough is established. This research complements the work of the Rochdale Observer which adds so much to the local history collection of the borough. Our research continues and we are still encouraging people to contact Touchstones with their family stories and records about the First World War."

The roll of honour will be available to view at Touchstones Arts and Heritage Centre in Rochdale from April onwards.

The council signed the Armed Forces Community Covenant in 2012, aimed at encouraging communities to support services that promote and encourage activities that help integrate armed forces personnel back into civilian life. Current or ex Armed Forces personnel can register for help or get more information by visiting If they encounter difficulties when accessing services from the council or its partners email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call the council on 01706 926989.

Issued by Rochdale Borough Council.