11-year-old’s story becomes book to help others

Heather Rose and son Isaac Sharples with his book and letters from pupils who have read and loved it.

AN ELEVEN-year-old boy’s battle to control his emotions has been captured in a child-friendly book to help other children struggling with everyday life.

Heather Rose, 41, from Haslingden, set up her business Mindset and Me a year ago when she realised the techniques she had used to help her son Isaac Sharples, cope with his ADHD and autism could also help others.

She said: “When he left nursery and started pre-school, there were signs. Our life was complicated and there had been a number of deaths in the family, but Isaac’s reactions were extreme and he showed violent behaviour. At school they labelled him as a ‘naughty boy’ and it took us five years to finally find out what was wrong, including paying for a private diagnosis.”

Through her business, Heather created a series of products to help other children including affirmation cards, worksheets and journals. On social media, she charted the progress Isaac had made since introducing the techniques and he starred in his own video when he recounted his journey. It has been viewed more than 8,000 times.

Now it has been turned into a children’s book – ‘Isaac the Master of Emotions’ which tells the story of a shy and struggling Isaac, who can’t cope with everyday experiences and how, with help from his toy Dragon, he finds a new path. Isaac, who attends Belmont School in Rawtenstall, said: “It is about how I learnt to manage my feelings, how I learnt to deal with the daily battles when I am angry or sad and how I learnt to keep control of my emotions.

“I find it difficult to make friends and sometimes I get very shy. If I went to a park I would struggle to go and make friends with children who were playing if I didn’t know them. Now in a morning my mum and I shout positive affirmations. ‘I am brave’, ‘I am strong’, ‘I am ready’ and it makes me feel happy and it changes the way I feel about the day.

“When things get on top of me I used not to be able to control myself and I would get into trouble. Now I just count to 10 and I take deep breaths and I remove myself and most of the time it works.”

Emma Pearsall, an emotional support teacher at Ashley High School and Sixth Form in Widnes – a specialist school for students with autism and social communication difficulties – has followed Isaac’s story on social media. She bought the book and read it to students and a delighted Isaac received 10 personally addressed letters.

He said: “They wrote to say how much they had enjoyed the book; that made me feel happy.”

Although Heather knew she wanted to turn Isaac’s journey into a book, it took six months before she found writer Emma Bowyer, who lives in New Zealand. Heather and Emma are both members of the international networking group Mums In Business Association (MIBA) and the book has been written in collaboration with Isaac and Heather.

Heather, who co-ordinates Lancashire and North Manchester MIBA and is also head co-ordinator for UK and Europe, said: “I have always wanted to bring out a book and wanted to Isaac’s story to inspire others. We want to get the book to as many children as possible so it can help them to be able to control their emotions and cope with daily life situations.

“I want to change strategies for mental health for future generations.”

The book is available from www.mindsetandme.com or email heather@mindsetandme.uk or like the Facebook page Mindset and Me.

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.

Bacup Tenor Sean Returns Home

Sean Ruane by Liz Henson Photography

SUPERB feedback and a host of requests prompted Bacup-born singer Sean Ruane to invite his friends back on stage for a second concert in the town.

For the last two years, international opera singer Sean has just been holding a ‘Sean and Friends’ night at Bacup Royal Court Theatre.

Sean said: “We had such good feedback from our May concert on social media and people were asking us if we would do a Christmas show that we decided let’s do it. It will be a true variety show with a host of home-grown Valley talent showcasing the amazing singers and talented musicians and performers that we have in Rossendale.”

May’s show opened with St Anne’s Community Choir and the singers, from primary school age to pensioners, will be back at Christmas to delight the audience.

Sean said: “I think having the community choir performing made the last concert extra special because the audience could see themselves in the performance. The choir was set up initially to combat isolation and it now attracts people from all over Rossendale.

“Since performing in Bacup, members have gone on to sing at Wembley in front of 70,000 rugby fans where they helped to keep a tradition from 1929 alive by singing ‘Abide With Me’. This concert, on Saturday December 7, will have traditional carols and Christmas songs for the audience to interact and sing along with and some surprises.”

Sean, who grew up on the Pennine Road Estate, loves returning to the theatre where his career started, especially when he sees familiar faces.

He said: “Chrissie Donnelly and Mrs Daley were always on the front row when I was younger; they used to look after me as a child when my mum died when I was four. Both Chrissie and Mrs Daley are sadly no longer with us, but now Chrissie’s daughter Theresa takes up a front row seat and I look forward to seeing her again in December.

“These concerts are all about connecting the community and it is amazing how many people tell me that is just what happens when they come along.”

As well as the choir, cruise ship artists The Lomax Brothers will be on stage along with singer Rachel Spencer, who owns Sophia Management and Casting Agency. Twelve-year-old Danny Dunning will be singing again at Sean’s concert. This time he will perform a solo of ‘Walking in the Air’ with piano accompaniment and, as part of a trio with Sean and Max Lomax, 12, Danny will be signing ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’.

Classical pianist Joanna Garcia will be accompanying Sean and brass trio Josh Brown, Thomas Kershaw and George Hanson and ‘The Band’ of Liam Spencer, Dan Connolly and Roger Hindle will be playing.

Sean now runs Chant Productions, working with young people, groups and businesses to create choirs and perform.

He said: “It has been a busy year and although not performing live at The Ashes, the England cricket team did walk out to my recording of ‘Jerusalem’. We are also working with Blackburn charity Child Action North West and BBC Children In Need.”

Tickets are £13 and available from the Royal Court Theatre Box Office or Wishes Galore in Bacup.

by Catherine Smyth Media

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

Bacup’s Booming Centre Gains Another New Business

Mayor Barbara Ashworth with foot health practitioner Catherine Hunter and her daughter Grace opens Hunter’s Foot Health Clinic

HAVING reflexology before her fifth round of IVF treatment not only led to a successful pregnancy, it also gave Catherine Hunter a new career path. Grace is now 16 years old and waiting for her GCSE results; her mum Catherine retrained from being a medical receptionist and has just opened Hunter’s Foot Health Clinic in her own shop at 29 St James Street, Bacup.

She said: “I found out I could not have children naturally at 24 and began on IVF. On our last attempt I had reflexology at a critical time before the fifth round of IVF and it worked. I call her my ‘saving’ Grace.

“Someone said I should do something for myself and so I started to research reflexology and I completed an intensive course.”

Catherine, 45, got bitten by the study bug and went on to complete a course in anatomy and physiology. She started volunteering at a Sure Start children’s centre in Todmorden helping to support families by using her skills.

She said: “I came to live in Sharneyford just over seven years ago when I was studying a foot health practitioners’ course. I knew I was going to have to go into the private sector because the NHS was cutting back.

“I qualified in September 2015 and opened a room at Pioneer Health Studio, initially when they were based at Riverside, Bacup. That first week I had just three clients. I moved with the gym to Park Road and the business grew, but it was always my aim to open my own premises.”

She had seen Bacup town centre transformed with the Townscape Heritage Initiative money that was awarded to Rossendale Council.

In May as a finalist in the Health Therapist of the Year category of the Lifestyle Awards, she passed a vacant shop premises on St James Street. She said: “I was delighted to be a finalist and then when I passed the premises again on my way back home, I knew I was going to move there.

“I now have 350 clients, but with one room I did not have the space to expand at Pioneer. Natalie and Gavin Smith were the best landlords I could have had and they both have wished me all the best. I am grateful for the support I have had from everyone, including my family, local businesses that refurbished of the premises and traders and old and new clients who have called in since I have opened.

“This is something I have been working towards over the past three years, but the time wasn’t right – now it is.”

Mayor Councillor Barbara Ashworth performed the opening ceremony and said: “I am so pleased to see the changes in the town centre and I think this is really going take off and I know there is a market both for younger people and older people.”

Catherine is also hoping to take on a second practitioner and to extend the clinic to create a serenity room for relaxing reflexology and Warm Wax Therapy.

To find out more visit the clinic at St James Street, email thehunters.foothealthclinic@gmail.com or call Catherine on 07854 435937.

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