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”

Nine Days of Heritage Activities Across Rossendale

FROM Asian comedy, to a traditional carnival procession, dialect song and dance to a comedy night – the nine-day Rossendale Heritage Festival has something for everyone.

When it was realised that a number of heritage events were happening across Rossendale at the same time, organisers got together to see how they could work in unison to promote all the attractions and boost visitor numbers.

The result will be a hectic nine day festival starting on Saturday June 29 at 11am with an interactive storytelling session at Haslingden Library all about Ramadan. Eight days later it will conclude on Sunday July 7 at 6pm when the Larks of Dean Quire will sing historic Hymns at Goodshaw Chapel at the annual sermon.

Marketing and publicity officer at The Boo, in Waterfoot, Michelle Darwin said: “We have been working in partnership with all different venues all across Rossendale. We have Smash Bengali at The Whitaker in Rawtenstall at 6pm on Saturday June 29, he is a British Bengali YouTuber Hashu who fuses his two cultures in his own unique style of comedy.

“As part of the heritage festival there will also be two parades. The first being on Sunday June 30 to mark the Centenary of Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival which started with a Peace Procession in 1919, to celebrate the signing of the Armistice. Then on the penultimate day of the festival, Waterfoot Wakes procession will be held celebrating the traditional Wakes Holidays when mills would close and the workers would enjoy a week off work.”

The Wakes celebrations will be held in venues across Waterfoot from June 4-7 and include a ceilidh and a meal and comedy night, when the audience will dine at the Old Library Café, before attending a comedy night at The Boo to watch a preview of two Edinburgh Fringe acts. Two acoustic nights will be held – at Anna’s Café Bar in Weir on Monday July 1 and at The Whitaker on Wednesday July 3.

Also on the final weekend of the heritage festival a two-day Dialect-I-Fest celebration will be held at The Whitaker in Rawtenstall with stages inside the hall and in the park hosting live acts, music, song, dance and brass bands. Rosso has been asked to switch one of its service buses for a liveried bus for the duration of the festival.

At Bacup Natural History Society Museum an exhibition to mark 100 years of the town’s carnival opens this Saturday June 15 and will be on throughout the Heritage Festival until Sunday July 7. A Heritage Lottery Grant awarded to Community Assets Standing Tall, a charity seeking to have historical assets listed to ensure their preservation, has brought the festival together and helped to fund workshops.

Programmes listing all the events for the festival have been distributed across Rossendale and for more information log on to https://www.horseandbamboo.org/ or contact The Boo on 01706 220241.

by Catherine Smyth Media