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.

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One Year On, Two Awards, The Hub of the Community – Anna’s Cafe Bar

A RURAL village bar that has become the heart of a remote community celebrated its first anniversary by picking up a second business award.

In June 2018 when Anna Preece opened Anna’s Cafe Bar on Burnley Road, Weir, Bacup, she looked up and down the busy main road wondering if anyone would visit… and they did. By lunchtime the café was packed and after just eight weeks the business had already achieved the target Anna had set for six months.

The success continued and in November Anna’s was the ‘Invest in Rossendale’ award winner at Rossendale Business Awards, and now at the Rossendale Lifestyle Awards it picked up ‘Bar of the Year’.

Anna, 44, used to be a full-time mum, make soup and bake bread to sell locally and was a part-time copywriter. Now, along with her husband Dave, she is partner in the business, which has offered full and part-time employment to many in a village where there are few job opportunities.

She said: “At the Lifestyle Awards Councillor Sean Serridge was announcing the winner and as he used to live in the village until recently and visits here, I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if he presented the award to us.’ Then he did. It was such a strong category with so many great bars as finalists I didn’t think we would win it.”

Initially, Anna and Dave were looking to rent the premises, which used to be a shop, and had started the planning process only for the owners to announce they were selling to a third party. Anna said: “I was gutted, but then that fell through and we were offered the building and were able to raise the money to buy it. We got the deeds in February and the first thing I did was come in and start knocking walls down.”

Anna and Dave have two children Poppy, 15, and Huey, 12, and Anna said it has been important for them to understand that hard work reaps its own rewards. She said: “Before we opened I was worried about how it would go, but I sort of knew it was going to work. I always knew what I wanted to do with the building and had a vision, but this has become so much bigger.

“We are now a hub for the community to meet, socialise, get to know their neighbours and hold parties. We have also had a visitor come all the way from Leeds – how many cafes did he pass on his way just to come here?”

Meeting a real need in the remote village by providing a warm and welcoming place, has ensured Anna’s is packed every weekend and tables need to be booked in advance. Now Anna is considering an Anna’s 2 and possibly an Anna’s 3 in other areas, replicating the successful template of the Weir business.

She said: “These awards are as much for my team as they are absolutely key to Anna’s being as successful as it is. We knew we had high quality products, we only use high quality ingredients and everything is home-made, but the excellent service, welcome and making people feel comfortable is just as important as we want them to come back.”

Anna’s also gives back and has donated nearly £1,300 vouchers to charities and community groups since it opened.

by Catherine Smyth Media

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

Fantastic Fun Family Flowerpot Festival … returns

FANTASTIC flowerpot sculptures are set to adorn businesses, houses and streets around Bacup and beyond.

The zany celebration brings out the creative side in young and old and also encourages people to explore their neighbourhoods to see the spectacular displays which will be on show from summer to September.

Chairman of Bacup Pride Pat Smith said: “This is the third year that Bacup Pride has organised the festival and we are very grateful to our funders Reaps Moss Community Fund and also Newground for the use of premises. The grants enable free making workshops to be offered and we have a plentiful supply of plant pots for anyone who wants to make a sculpture.”

The first workshop was held at the Doals Centre in Weir and was a huge success. Now a whole series of workshops have been announced at the annexe across from Stubbylee Hall in Stubbylee Park.

The free making sessions will be on Thursdays June 13, 20 and 27 from 10am to 12 noon and also on Sundays June 16 and 23 from 1.30pm-4pm.

Making a sculpture is easier than you think and at all the making sessions there are helpers on hand who can assist with the creation.

Pat said: “The idea of having a flowerpot festival came about after visiting Settle and happening across their event. It was amazing to go round following the trail admiring all the different sculptures and seeing parts of Settle I never knew existed.

“We brought the idea back to Bacup and people loved getting involved in making and creating. We also saw lots of people and youth groups touring their town to check out the sculptures. Last year we had a rock star hanging off a house on New Line and then in the town centre a bride and groom were in the window of Icing on the Cake in Pioneer Buildings.

“On St James Street there were a series of sea creatures in the window of Beauty Culture and there was a lost little sheep in the gardens of Trinity Baptist Church on Market Street. The imagination people put into their flowerpot creations never ceases to amaze me and this year will be no exception.

“Please join in, please have a go and make sure you put your sculpture on display and fill in the form so we can include it in the trail.”

All the information on the making workshops will be on the Facebook page Bacup Flowerpot Festival.

Bacup Pride will be having a stall at Bacup and Stacksteads Centenary Carnival on Sunday June 30 in Moorlands Park where people can find out more about the event and the organisation. For an application form please email bacupride@gmail.com or call Pat on 07751 380 392.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Charities Benefit as Salon Celebrates Golden Anniversary

THREE charities will benefit from a celebration to mark the golden anniversary of a Rawtenstall business.

Antony and Patricia Hair Salon first opened on Newchurch Road on October 17 1969 and Director Tony Winder is still steering the ship and overseeing developments which now include nautical-themed Bosun’s Barbers and a children’s salon Noah’s Ark to complement the ladies’ salon.

The salon relocated to Bank Street in 1972 and has been a key business on the high street ever since training hundreds of apprentices and stylists who now run their own successful salons.

Tony said: “On Saturday August 31, I will be inviting people to The Whitaker, in Rawtenstall, where there will be food and entertainment and attendees will be asked to make a donation and support fundraising that will benefit three worthy causes. I have selected Civic Pride Rossendale because of the amazing job they do to keep the Valley clean and tidy.

“Money will also be raised for the Manchester and District branch of Motor Neurone Disease Association because a former trainee of mine in the late ’70s John Edmondson was diagnosed with the disease two years ago. He ran a successful salon in Monton, Manchester. The third charity to benefit will be Tor View Specialist Learning Community because of the links the salon has had since we opened our special autism room ‘The Lifeboat’ in the children’s salon.”

Former staff and current colleagues, loyal and lapsed clients, friends and family will receive special invitations and all guests are asked to make a donation into a charity fund. The event is limited to 125 guests and the charities will be involved with organising fundraisers on the night.

Local artistes will be providing entertainment. This includes, the Lomax Brothers, singer Charlotte May Tomlinson and friend Joe Teoli.

Chairman of the Friends of Tor View Vanessa Prater has been a client of the salon since before the specialist Noah’s Ark Children’s Salon opened. She said: “I have four children and one has complex special needs and since Noah’s Ark opened I have been a real advocate. Staff are all well trained and it is a relaxed, child-friendly and welcoming place making it a much nicer experience for the whole family.

“We are bidding to get a sports hall at the school, as we are the only secondary school in the Valley without one.”

Tony used to be president of Rossendale Valley Motorbike Show and when the organisation disbanded Civic Pride Rossendale was one of the beneficiaries from the left over funds. Chairman Chris Blomerley said: “Tony has always been a great supporter of us and we are delighted that Civic Pride Rossendale has been invited to be a part of the celebration of Antony and Patricia’s 50 very successful years in business.”

The organisation is always busy and has just taken delivery of a grant-funded commercial greenhouse to offer opportunities to volunteers of all abilities to be able to help the organisation. For further information contact Charlotte or Haidee on 01706 217129 or visit the Antony and Patricia Facebook page.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Dance Academy’s triple success

THREE teenage dancers who have honed their skills at Dansworks Dance Academy of Performing Arts in Bacup are now going on to prestigious dance schools.

Emily Biel is the latest dancer to be selected from more than 100 hopefuls from all over the world for a place at the prestigious Northern Ballet School in Manchester. The 16-year-old from Rawtenstall will be joining Jaydan Hanson-Beech, 15, from Bacup, who has also secured a place at the same school from September. Also heading to Manchester – to Shockout Arts Academy is Jasmine Somerwill, 15, from Bacup.

Principal of Dansworks Karen Roe said: “To have three dancers achieve this level of success at the same time is testimony to the hard work they have put in over the many years they have been with Dansworks. We are thrilled about their achievements and we are all looking forward to seeing them achieve their goals and land the places on the stage they all aspire to.”

Emily first took up dancing aged six at an afterschool club run by Karen. She said: “Karen suggested that I come along to Dansworks and I have been attending ever since. I love dancing and I love how everyone here has helped me to improve. It is like a big family and everyone is so supportive.

“Dancing makes me happy and I when I am watching others it is aesthetically pleasing; I hope I am aesthetically pleasing when I am dancing too.”

Like Jaydan, Emily is hoping to get a DADA – a Dance And Drama Award that will help her to pay for her tuition. Her dream is a place on the stage and hopefully in the West End, but dancers from Northern Ballet are also scouted by dance companies and shows from all over the world. Later in her career, Emily hopes to become a choreographer.

Jaydan said: “At the audition the principal asked what my ultimate goal was and I said that I didn’t have one, I just knew that I want to be a dancer. When I opened the letter and found out I had a place, I was so overwhelmed and emotional. I was just over the moon. My dad was at home and he gave me a big hug, when my mum found out she was also delighted.

 “When I dance I take myself away from the world and am able to find head space and just forget everything else. When I dance I am in a good place.”

Jasmine, who hopes to secure a scholarship, has been dancing since she was three and for the last two years has been having at Dansworks. She said: “When I started at Dansworks I had done a lot of street dance and disco but was not good at ballet or jazz.

“Karen has really worked me hard for two years to get me to a good enough standard to be able to take Grade 5 ballet, which I passed with distinction, and to be successful in my audition for ShockOut Arts. I realise how important it is to have good technique training.

“My course will begin in September and I will be doing different dance styles, tap, ballet, jazz, street and contemporary. My plan is to dance around the world and I would love to perform on cruise ships because it would be really fun and I am not seasick.”

To find out more about Dansworks visit www.dansworks.co.uk or call 01706 559671.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Memorial bench and silhouette soldier to be unveiled in Bacup

A COMMEMORATIVE bench and silhouette soldier statue will be unveiled in Newgate Gardens, Bacup, the ‘hidden gem’ next to town’s museum.

Bacup Natural History Society and Museum, based on Yorkshire Street, has been hosting a series of events since 2014 to coincide with the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Nat secretary Wendy Watters successfully secured three Heritage Lottery Fund grants, which have paid for major developments at the museum.

She said: “On Easter Saturday April 20, we will be holding another Meet the Tommy event when Scott Knowles will come dressed in period uniform and he will stage a First World War display. At 11.30am the ceremony will take place in Newgate Gardens, next door to The Nat, and we have invited Pat Smith and Andrew Walmsley from Bacup Pride to do the unveiling.

“We had 32 members of The Nat who served in the First World War, but five did not come home – these were brothers Fred and Frank Horrocks, William Pickup, Alex Pounder and Samuel Myerscough. The latest successful lottery bid was for a Sharing Heritage grant and the bench and statue will be in memory of those five.

“Newgate Gardens really is a hidden gem. Bacup Pride do an outstanding job taking care of the steep flower beds that lead to the gardens and inside there is so much of Bacup’s history to explore. On Bacup Nat’s website there is a pdf available that people can download so they can find out the history behind the stones and artefacts that are contained in the garden.”

The Britannia Coconutters have agreed to take time out of their very busy boundary-to-boundary dance on Easter Saturday to call in at Newgate Gardens in the afternoon to dance. Heritage Lottery grants have led to developments at the museum including the Fern Hill Room, which captures a scene from Fern Hill Auxiliary Hospital that was based in Stacksteads during the First World War and looked after soldiers who had been injured in action.

Mrs Ibbitt’s Shop and parlour was also created in an underused storage room and ongoing work has been carried out with primary school pupils and uniformed movements. This year marks the 140th anniversary of Bacup Nat – originally known as ‘The Muck and Flea Club’. Events to celebrate that milestone continue throughout the year and have included working in tandem with Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival.

This year organisers BASCO will be celebrating the centenary of the Peace Procession, the forerunner of the present day event, and grants from the Nat have assisted parade entries and shop displays. The Sharing Heritage project will conclude with an event in August at The Nat.

by Catherine Smyth Media