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

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

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

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

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”