TalkFirst Baby and Toddler Signing helping Chloe’s wish list come true

Student Kizzy Wood with Susan Broxton and Dexter. Kizzy first learnt sign language aged two in one of Susan’s classes.

A FIVE-year-old local girl with an incurable brain tumour will benefit from hundreds of pounds raised at a recent baby and toddler signing training session to help her wish list come true.

When TalkFirst baby and toddler signing tutor Susan Broxton organised a professional session for childminders last month, she offered to use it to raise money for charity because the father of one of the participants, Lauren Ashworth, had been diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer.

Susan, from Weir, said: “The original plan was for 10 people to be trained at Julie’s Childcare, in Rawtenstall, where Lauren is an assistant. However, it became training for 20 people offering extra places for local nurseries to raise money. We then needed a larger space and Bright Futures Nursery School at Alder Grange came to the rescue. Lauren was using the training as part of her Level 3 qualifications, but sadly her father Barry (Baz) passed away just two days before the training and so she was unable to attend.”

Local businesses generously donated prizes to make the event a success and so far £850 has been raised. However, ‘Big Dexter’, a giant version of TalkFirst’s colourful jester character that leads the signing sessions, was unable to make an appearance because Susan’s husband Andrew got his head stuck in the costume.

She said: “We had promised that Big Dexter would be there for photographs, but because he couldn’t be, we organised a further event on Tuesday March 31st at The Hill – home of Ski Rossendale, where I hold baby and toddler signing classes.

“We then looked for a local glioblastoma cause for some of the money to go to and I came across Chloe’s Angels. Chloe is five and, like Baz, has the same cancer. She has a wish list of things she wants to do. We contacted the family and got approval to raise money for her.

Chloe Connolly, five, who has a glioblastoma brain tumour.

“We have now set up Dexter’s FUNdraising and we will be making it an annual event. Money raised will also go to Parkinson’s UK in memory of my late father Mel Howey and The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Barry Ashworth.”

TalkFirst uses local company JSA Printing for their T-shirts and marketing materials, owned by brothers Joe and Sam Aston. Sam is also Coronation Street’s Chesney and his character has just had quads, one of whom is deaf and the current storyline sees them learning baby sign language. TalkFirst baby signing has been developed to help ALL babies and toddlers to promote speech and language skills. When Susan asked for T-shirts for the event, and explained where the funds were going, she discovered the brothers’ sister Kate, who also works in the firm, is Chloe’s auntie.

Susan said: “The coincidences have been never ending. We will be asking for donations if you’d like to have a photo taken with Dexter, we also hope to have someVIP guests on the day. After the event at The Hill, Dexter will also be at Bright Futures Nursery School in the afternoon, provided Andrew manages to get his head out of the costume properly this time!”

Kizzy and her mum Clare Wood at the signing class.

Susan has been running TalkFirst Baby And Toddler Signing for 15 years and is looking for more tutors, contact susantalkfirst@gmail.com or visit https://talkfirst.net/

The link to Dexter’s FUNdraisier https://talkfirst.net/dexters-fundraiser/ and GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/f/talkfirst-baby-amp-toddler-signing-charity-event Chloe’s Angels GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/f/begb4-chloe

by Catherine Smyth Media

Helmshore Farm Leads Way Preserving Rare Breeds and Now Selling Meat Locally

Down on the farm with the cows, from left Josh Vines, Kayley and Tim.
Photo Catherine Smyth Media

MEAT from rare breeds reared in Helmshore is served in fine dining restaurants and on cruise ships and is now available locally to buy.

It was five years ago that Tim Vines, his son Josh and daughter-in-law Kayley decided to try their hand at farming having had a handful of cattle on their 15-acres of land.

Tim and his wife Debbie invested in 150 acres at neighbouring Kiln Clough Farm, in Helmshore Road, which had been used for rearing sheep. Now it is home to 93 rare breed and native cattle including Belted Galloway, Riggit and Blue Grey, and 150-200 rare breed and native pigs including Oxford Sandy and Black, Tamworth and Middle White.

Josh Vines with the mix of rare breed and native pigs at Kiln Clough Farm.

In response to a BBC documentary on environmental issues stemming from intensive beef farming ‘Meat: a threat to our planet’, Tim said: “Here we have sustainable grazing livestock and they convert naturally growing grass into high quality protein. Grazing livestock acts as a natural fertiliser for the soil and it stores carbon to maintain the habitat and look after the land. Our meat is no threat to the planet.”

The family owns Northern Whisper Brewery in Cloughfold and for the last four years a hugely popular beer festival has been held on the farm over four days in August. Half the animals’ feed comes from spent grain from the brewery as sustainability is very important to the family.

Josh, 27, said: “We set up the Larder Drop for two reasons, firstly to diversify the farm’s business activities and secure our future in this time of uncertainty in the UK. Secondly, we had received a lot of messages through our beer festival page over the last few years from people wanting to buy our meat.”


Josh Vines with Looby Lou a Belted Galloway being hand reared after being rejected by her mother

Animals are supplied to a high-end wholesaler, but in response to the local demand the family has set up an online company Larder Drop and now ‘buys back’ cuts for customers. All meat sold through Larder Drop comes in as little plastic and non-recyclable packaging as possible.

Josh said: “We are promoting as many rare and different breeds because we want to do our bit to support traditional British breeds and they each provide different cuts of meat. We allow our animals to mature at their own rate and that is what gives their meat its superior texture and flavour. Our meat has 30 per cent less saturated fat and is rich in Omega 3.”

During the week Tim and farmhands run the farm while Josh runs Northern Whisper where Kayley works. Josh and other family members still run Response Footwear in Cloughfold, which Tim founded.

Tim, 62, added: “I didn’t want to think about retiring, gardening and growing old.”

To visit Larder Drop log on to the Facebook page Kiln Clough Farm or visit www.larderdrop.co.uk. Local deliveries are made free of charge.

by Catherine Smyth Media

10th Birthday Celebrations at GrowTraffic

GrowTraffic winner of the small Business of The Year category at Rossendale Business Awards 2018, from left Elicia McManus, Hannah Weinhold, Les Nutter from sponsor Cassons, Rachel Weinhold and Simon Dalley. Photo Liz Henson Photography

TENTH anniversary celebrations for a virtual business could see the company opening a town centre premises.

Digital marketing agency GrowTraffic has bases in Lancashire and South Yorkshire and bizarrely owes its origins, in part, to a website on rat breeding launched in 2000 by founder Simon Dalley.

Simon, who lives in Bacup, said: “I was at university when I first created a website, which attracted attention from all over the world and taught me a lot about marketing, onsite search engine optimisation (SEO) and selling online.”

Albeit the subject matter was rather odd, the knowledge Simon acquired from those first ventures into the virtual world, coupled with a career in marketing management, led to the founding of GrowTraffic in 2009.

Simon said: “I realised that while businesses had websites, but they didn’t necessarily work for them or generate an income. GrowTraffic was set up to help companies’ boost their online presence by creating content to drive up customer numbers, but initially it was just a side line to my full-time marketing role with a view to building a client base I could fall back on in the future.

“After a few false starts, false dawns and wrong paths over the last 10 years, the business really took flight after my wife Rachel Weinhold began working on the business full time in 2014.”

Rachel has a degenerative back condition and was medically retired from her job in the NHS; at one stage she was bed-bound. She had always worked so, when she was well enough, she began working with GrowTraffic’s clients as a copywriter and retrained to understand the often misunderstood world of SEO, which is the core of GrowTraffic’s business.

Rachel said: “Things really took off when I went to a Valley at Work meeting, a local group set up to help and support Rossendale businesses. I explained what we do and we began picking up local clients.”

As a result of attending that meeting, the client base switched from national to local and the company began to soar, but the volume of new work was in danger of swamping Rachel. At the same time her sister Hannah, who lives in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was facing redundancy from her position as Service Operations Manager at a tech company, following that business’s acquisition.

She joined the GrowTraffic team as Commercial Director and began to put in place the kind of processes and systems to facilitate further growth. Simon said: “This also gave GrowTraffic access to new contacts and a Rotherham location, and we now have a number of significant clients throughout Yorkshire and the East Midlands.”

As a largely virtual business with employees in Rossendale and Rotherham, GrowTraffic is seeking to open a visible presence, firstly in Bacup, and is currently at an early stage in negotiations. With the trio at its helm, the company tripled its turnover and last year won the small Business of the Year category at Rossendale Business Awards; in January the company was a finalist in the Red Rose Awards Digital Business category.

For the third year, GrowTraffic is ‘giving back’ by sponsoring the Creative Business category in the Rossendale Business Awards, which is also celebrating its 10th anniversary. Rachel said: “The awards had a much bigger impact than I was expecting and people from all over Lancashire heard about our success.”

by Catherine Smyth Media

Quizzers raise nearly £840 for local Cancer Research UK group

Picture: Liz Henson Photography

QUIZZERS put their knowledge to the test to help raise £837 for the Cancer Research UK Bacup Committee.

At the Rose ‘n’ Bowl in Stacksteads, 144 attendees enjoyed tackling a host of questions from history to TV show photos, dingbats to music. The committee is currently raising money to fund research into an into ‘early warning’ blood test which can detect if melanoma will return, being carries out by a team led by Prof Richard Marais at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute.

The next fundraising event will be a curry and quiz at the Ashoka in Rawtenstall on Thursday October 17, 6.30pm for 7pm cost £15 per person.

On Saturday December 7 a Christmas Fayre will be held at Central Methodist Church from 10am-noon admission adults £1 and children 50p.

Recipe for Riches Served to Valley Businesses

Gü Desserts guru James Averdieck. Picture: Liz Henson Photography

SWEET supremo James Averdieck served up the secrets of his success to business owners keen to learn from his experience.

The second Invest in Rossendale evening, a joint event between Rossendale Borough Council and Valley at Work, which connects local businesses, was held at The Riverside in Whitworth. With food and drink becoming a booming area in Rossendale, the founder of Gü Desserts, who now runs healthy vegan venture The Coconut Collaborative, explained his recipe to riches was to first have ‘a good idea’.

Continue reading “Recipe for Riches Served to Valley Businesses”

Advice Charity’s 80 Years of Free Service

AN ADVICE charity that has helped thousands of people across Rossendale and Hyndburn celebrated its 80th birthday with an open house.

Memories came flooding back for the scores of visitors to the Citizens’ Advice Rossendale and Hyndburn offices at Stubbylee Hall, Bacup. Not least Rossendale’s Mayor Councillor Barbara Ashworth who used to be the manager of Bacup.

She said: “I first started as a volunteer in 1978 and then I got a paid job at Heywood. I returned to Rossendale as manager in Bacup when the Citizens’ Advice Bureau was based in Pioneer Buildings.”

Coun Ashworth was manager for six years and recalled how in those days the bulk of the agency’s funding was from the local authority.

Present manager of Rossendale and Hyndburn Rachel Whippy said: “Now we seek grants and funding from trusts and foundations and we only receive around 25 per cent from local authorities.”

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau was founded nationally on September 4 1939. On April 4 1940 the Bacup office opened in the town’s library and on September 3 1940 the Accrington and District CAB opened.

A time line was created by supervisor at Hyndburn CA Julia Hannaford and files of newspaper cuttings told the stories of both offices. A ledger from 1944 caused great interest and included in the inquiries were lots of claims for missing laundry, a request for a permit for wellies, pensions for soldiers missing in action and mothers trying to trace American soldiers for child maintenance.

Linda Allen, 74, from Whitworth, began volunteering with the bureau 30 years ago. She said: “I started when my youngest son had got married and my oldest was already married and I thought I would like to do some volunteering.

“I was initially an adviser in Whitworth, and I was there when Princess Anne came to open the new office. When Whitworth closed I then began volunteering in Bacup, first at Pioneer Buildings, then King Street and now at Stubblylee Hall and this is the best place. I now do just one or two days a week, reception and filing. Today has brought back lots of memories and I have made many good friends here over the years.”

The agency is constantly evolving and has just launched a new project across Rossendale and Hyndburn funded by a grant from the Henry Smith Foundation.

Rachel explained: “We identified that there was a need in a certain group of clients – mainly single adults who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We were giving advice and help, but then when they left the service it wasn’t always being implemented. They would find themselves in the same circumstances and return to us for assistance.

“This funding enables us to have two new posts to cover both offices to help them get a tenancy, assist in learning how to budget and manage their money and hopefully break the cycle.”

For more information on the Citizens’ Advice contact 0300 456 2552 or visit www.carh.org.uk

by Catherine Smyth Media

Talking Newspaper Celebrates 40th Anniversary

LISTENERS, readers, volunteers and dignitaries packed a steam train to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rossendale Talking Newspaper.

It was 1979 when the first Chairman Barry Lonsdale launched the audible version of the Rossendale Free Press and present Chairman Rodney Poucher, who has been involved since 1986, took over the chairmanship 10 years ago.

He said: “When the Talking Newspaper started we recorded the Rossendale Free Press onto 90 minute tapes and it would be distributed to 160 people. The tapes would then be returned and recorded over each week. Nine years ago in 2010 we went digital and started recording on to a memory stick which the Royal Mail distributes for free. At the moment we have 40-45 listeners.”

Jane King, 83, from Bacup, said: “My right eye went about 12 years ago and then about two years ago my left one went and now it is very hazy. I could not see the steam engine because it merged in with the background. I have always had the newspaper ever since I lived in Bacup and thanks to the Talking Newspaper I can now ‘read’ it again.”

There was a lovely atmosphere on the train as readers and listeners mingled and shared stories.

Sheila Brierley, 71, from Helmshore, said: “I can’t read the newspaper anymore because I have macular degeneration and so have had the Talking Newspaper for four to five months. Malcolm, my husband, used to read the news to me off the internet, but now I have a machine and I get a USB and can listen to it myself. I can also use it for audio books. I now know what is going on and what is coming up in Rossendale.”

The paper does not just help people with sight problems keep up to date, it is also useful for people who have dementia or who for whatever reason struggle to hold a newspaper and turn the pages.

Members of 38th Rossendale Scout Group from Beavers to Explorer Scouts were guest readers this year and have selected the Talking Newspaper as its charity of the year and representatives were on the train.

The Mayor of Rossendale Councillor Barbara Ashworth said: “It has been a lovely journey and I have learnt about something I didn’t know that much about. The paper is not just for people who have eyesight problems but lots of other issues too; including dementia.”

Also on the train was Rossendale Council Leader Councillor Alyson Barnes who was one of the readers for the first nine years when she moved to Rossendale.

Rodney added: “We have 57 people involved as volunteers, both readers, those who arrange distribution and the committee. Since 1979 we have had about 300 volunteers involved who have read 1,962 editions of the Rossendale Free Press.”

Anyone wanting to have an audio copy of the paper can contact Rodney on 01706 213962.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Salon’s 50th Celebration Raises £4k for Good Causes

Photo Naomi Entwistle Photography

A SPARKLING Sixties-style celebration to mark a business’s 50th anniversary raised more than £4,000 for three good causes.

It was in 1969 when Tony Winder and his then wife Patricia opened Antony and Patricia’s Hair Salon in Rawtenstall (A&P), initially in premises on Newchurch Road. Many visitors attending the celebration at The Whitaker, in Rawtenstall, entered into the spirit by dressing in ’60s style clothing.

A&P moved to a former laundrette premises in Bank Street in 1972 and the business has never stopped evolving, opening Bosun’s Barbers on the upper deck in 2016 and the hugely successful Noah’s Ark Children’s Salon in 2018. However one thing that hasn’t changed is its director Tony Winder – who is still steering the ship.

Tony, 72, said: “I am very grateful to everyone who has come along tonight to make this celebration so special. I started my career in 1962 at Les Howarth’s barber’s in Haslingden and then was a camp barber in Butlins and on one day in Filey I did 65 haircuts in one 9-6 day and still had an hour for lunch.

“A lot has changed over the years with the business but one of our outstanding success stories has been Noah’s Ark that attracts children from all over the North West one that travelled from London.”

More than 150 guests attended the evening including actor Jane Horrocks, originally from Rossendale, who was guest celebrity. The star, best known for ‘Little Voice’ and her character Bubbles in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, recounted her days modelling in one of Tony’s hair shows as a punk.

Describing the salon as like a ‘home from home’, she said: “I have very fond memories. My mum also modelled in the shows and Tony would always do a demonstration of every generation of hair. To have a punk hairstyle in the show was fantastic for the Valley.”

Guest Julie Kszych, a long time skiing friend of Tony and his wife Karina, who is also a director of A&P, heard about the party when the friends met in Switzerland in January and made a 5,000 journey from her home in Florida for the celebrations. Julie, who used the trip to catch up with several friends in the UK, said: “My motto has always been savour the moment. This is the first time I have been to Rossendale. Tony and Karina are a lovely couple.”

The event included charity fundraisers, food and entertainment from Sarah Davis and singer Charlotte May and Thomas and was raising money for Civic Pride Rossendale, Tor View Specialist Learning Community and the Manchester and District Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND). John Edmondson, who went on to run his own salon in Monton, has MND. He said: “I was 17 when I joined A&P as an apprentice, my sister Christine was already there. Tony was very strict but in a professional way and he wanted to get the best out of you. There were lots of practical jokes – like when an apprentice was sent out to get a bucket of steam – but he taught me well and for 26 years I had my own salon.”

On behalf of Tor View, Clare Mulderrig explained how the school had grown from 40 pupils to more than 200 from nursery to further education and this year was offering 20 independent college places.

A&P has long been a supporter of Civic Pride Rossendale and trustee Lynn Smith said: “We thank Tony from the bottom of our hearts for everything he has done.”

The current team at A&P joined former colleagues, many of whom had been apprentices under Tony’s tutelage, to recount and reflect their time at the salon.

Tony used his speech to announce that he was now going to be taking Tuesday’s off, would be coming into work at 9am instead of 8am and was going to begin planning for his retirement.

Towards the end of the evening, former Tony Blair spin-doctor and fellow Claret supporter Alastair Campbell also called in to wish Tony well.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Sam taps his way into acclaimed company

DANCER Sam Hughes is a step closer to his West End goal after landing a place on an Associate Programme with a prestigious tap dancing company Tap Attack.

The 14-year-old started dancing at two-and-a-half at Dansworks Dance Academy of Performing Arts. When Dansworks opened, initially in Waterfoot, Sam, from Whitewell Bottom, was one of the first people to join.

His mum Helen said: “His friend was going to a dance class and Sam asked if he could go along with her and he was hooked. From the age of five to seven he would choreograph and write out dance routines, which he would then perform.”

He was initially just doing Tap and Ballet and then decided to join a different dance school and tried cheerleading before at nine he returned to Dansworks, and the studios in Bacup have now become his second home.

Sam, a student at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, now has dance lessons in Tap, Ballet, Musical Theatre, Contemporary Dance Modern Jazz and Drama and loves taking part in the shows and competitions. He first auditioned two years ago for Tap Attack, which is based in Halifax, but  he didn’t get through.

Sam said: “Tap has always been the style I like best. At the audition this time I was quite nervous when I went into the room, but as soon as the teacher started talking I thought, ‘I could do this’. I liked the atmosphere and as I settled into the audition I could tell that my ability was on a higher level that the other students in my age group.”

Sam, who has previously performed in Halifax in the professional pantomime Aladdin, is looking forward to joining Tap Attack at a two-day Workshop in Swindon and hopes to get picked for the team that will compete in the Tap Dancing World Championships.

He added: “I will be learning American style Street Tap which is less traditional and is very rhythmical. I would love to perform in bigger theatres and with large companies. Gemma Nuttall has recently been my tap dancing teacher at Dansworks. She has been amazing, she has inspired me she understands what I want to do and she has helped me to get where I have today.”

Danworks Principal Karen Roe said: “We are so proud of Sam, he has always had a passion for dance but the last two years he has worked so hard and has been so determined to get to the level he needed to be at. His improvement in all his dance styles this year has been phenomenal – attaining 96 per cent in his most recent Dance Exam – and he thoroughly deserves his place on the Tap Attack Associate Programme.”

Photos Liz Henson Photography

Words Catherine Smyth Media

Berni Inn Function Room and Restaurant: Whitworth’s Hidden Gem

Berni Inn function room and wedding venue Whitworth

In 2012, Berni and her team opened the doors to a family-run steakhouse restaurant on Market Street in Whitworth. However, Berni quickly came to the realisation that the restaurant had far more potential. The spacious venue (which is located above a Fudge Factory, yum!) is in a great central location in Whitworth and has a large car park.

Continue reading “Berni Inn Function Room and Restaurant: Whitworth’s Hidden Gem”