Wonderful Things

THANKS to generous donations and grants, scores of children have been able to enjoy free places at a holiday club offering wonderful experiences. Innovative project Wonderful Things, which started at St Mary’s CE School, Rawtenstall, branched out to cover different locations last year.

To ensure the success of the expansion – which saw hundreds of primary school age children enjoying new experiences aided by Youth Volunteers from high schools, sponsorship opportunities were created. Project Manager Kate Crane, from Rawtenstall, said: “We were fortunate to be awarded Local Member Grants from County Councillors David Foxcroft and Peter Steen which have enabled us to offer four places a day to children who would not have been able to access Wonderful Things. In Chatburn we also received a Local Member Grant which enabled us to offer four free places up to Easter. During May half term, thanks to a donation from Hanson Cement Ribblesdale, we are able to continue offering the free places. In the past, we have had businesses sponsoring ice creams for a week for all of the children who attended during the summer and some facilitators ran their activities at a reduced cost. We are very grateful for all offers of help and as it only costs £17 a day to sponsor a place for a child, we hope there will be more businesses that might want to give something back.”

The days are all themed from Lego to forest, sport to science, aliens to superheroes, news to dance. County Councillor Foxcroft said: “I think what Wonderful Things is doing is fantastic. I went along to see the project and there was a little girl who was able to attend because of the Local Member Grant. Had that money not been there she would have been staying with her grandmother who is fighting cancer and she would have had to stop inside and look after her and watch TV. What was important was that she was able to experience what children should without any cares, worries or fears, just like any other child. That for me sums up what this project does.”

This summer sessions will be held at Newchurch St Nicholas CE Primary School, The Boo in Waterfoot, at Chatburn CE School in the Ribble Valley and in Stockport. To check out and book activity days visit www.wonderfulthings.org.uk or the organisation’s Facebook page. To offer sponsorship or support email kate@wonderfulthings.org.uk

Story by Catherine Smyth

Ale Trail Proves Big Hit

REAL ale lovers snapped up the chance to join a bus-led Hop and Grain Ale Trail, which toured Rossendale, Todmorden and Burnley. The initiative, which was a first for Lancashire, saw more than 350 people buying tickets for £12, which entitled them to hop on and off a succession of buses that toured a circular route from noon to 11pm. One of the departure points was Northern Whisper, next to Rawtenstall Market on Newchurch Road.

Events manager Michael Ormerod said: “I was approached by Hop and Grain Events Ltd and asked whether we were interested in taking part in as they have held these in different parts of the country. At Northern Whisper we sold 84 tickets with people hopping on the buses are different times of the day.
“We are delighted to have played a part in bringing 350 to Rossendale to see what a beautiful area the Valley is. Recently we welcomed people from Morecambe, Leeds and eight people from Bolton. This trail has been so successful we will also be holding another organised by the same company in September.”

Every person on the trail was given a pink wristband so they could hop on the buses and celebrating his 40th birthday was James Wright of Newchurch.
James and his wife Rebecca, along with his brother Chris and his wife Charlie from Somerset, hopped on the bus at Northern Whisper. He said: “It is my 40th birthday on Wednesday and we decided to start the celebrations early.
What appealed about this was we are not restricted to train times and we will get to see some new places that we have never been to before.”

Rebecca said: “I like the idea of being able to get on and off at different locations and stay as long as we want and then be able to get on a bus to take us back to our departure point.”

Friends Marcus and Suzanne Edwards, from North Wales, and Dave and Jenny Toner, from Runcorn, founded Hop and Grain Events Ltd a year ago.
Marcus said: “We don’t include chains as we want to promote locally based pubs. Real ale is a massive market and we see this as a way of boosting trade in the industry. It is about having a fun experience and we encourage people to drink responsibly.”

As well as Northern Whisper the trail went to The Crown in Bacup, the Golden Lion and the Hare and Hounds in Todmorden, The Kettledrum Inn, Cliviger, The Talbot in Burnley and The White Bull and The Masons’ Arms in Crawshawbooth.

Story by Catherine Smyth

Themed Events Organised by Dementia Friendly Rossendale

A SERIES of special reminiscence events to mark Dementia Awareness Week will also embrace the Royal Wedding and the FA Cup Final. Dementia Friendly Rossendale had already planned to host an event at Kay Street Baptist Church, Rawtenstall, on Saturday May 19 from 10am to noon when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their plan to marry on the same day.
As the FA Cup is also on May 19, organisers Paula Bond and Sue Hemsley, co-vice-chair of Dementia Friendly Rossendale, decided to combine both celebrations into a theme.

Paula said: “The event is open for everyone, carers and those living with dementia and their families. We are asking people to bring along an item that relates to their wedding or a sporting occasion that will spark a memory. We have a local artist Andrew Holland who is coming along for free to make card prints which will be an outline on a wedding or a sporting theme. Our visitors will get the chance to pick one and decorate it if they wish with confetti or glitter. We also have a poet Tony Curry giving his time for free who will get basic background information on the person and then make a personalised poem which will be put inside the card. Everyone who comes along will then have a very personal keepsake to take away with them along with a wedding favour or a chocolate football.”

Sue will decorate a wedding cake with fresh flowers, wedding dresses will be on display along with a bouquet and corsages as well as sporting equipment and football scarves. Whitworth Museum has provided a box of Royal memorabilia to prompt conversation. Wedding and sporting music will be played while the activities take place and Sixth Form students from Alder Grange School will be assisting.

For the third year there will also three steam special trains on the East Lancashire Railway when more than 250 passengers both care homes residents and individuals who live along the length of the line will enjoy a subsidised trip.

Sue said: “They will be travelling from Bury through to Rawtenstall and back again and be served with a lunch for just £3.50. We have been fundraising all year and have also been given generous donations to help with all of the events. The trains on May 16 and 17 are already full but there are some places available on Friday May 18 when the Mayors of Bury and Rossendale will also be attending.”

Paula added: “It is all about raising awareness and about bringing back memories. People living with dementia have long-term memories and events like this can help to bring those memories back.”
On October 13 Dementia Friendly Rossendale will also be holding a concert involving local bands and groups at St Mary’s Church, Rawtenstall

Story by Catherine Smyth

Global Plans for Down to Earth Brand

A DOWN to earth food business is hoping to turn its ‘Nowt Poncy’ name into a global brand. When Managing Director Jools Abel drives his distinctive liveried van around he gets people stopping him all the time to comment on the name.
Jools and his wife and Operations Director Karen, from Water in Rossendale, set up The Nowt Poncy Food Company in July 2016 and in the first year of trading it was shortlisted for three business awards including the Valley at Work organised Rossendale Business Awards.

They have just returned from The Farm Shop & Deli Show at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre where their range of sauces with its distinctive brand and labelling went down a storm with the visitors. The brand has been trademarked in 11 different business sectors from hotels to accommodation, books to insurance, as the couple can see a global future for the ‘Nowt Poncy’ title.

Jools is a time-served mechanical engineer spent 25 years in the photographic equipment repair industry, but he has always had a passion for cooking. Karen was a headteacher and met Jools when they both attended Manchester Polytechnic in 1987. That was the time when nouvelle cuisine was at its height and the couple found themselves searching for restaurants that still served ‘real food’.

The Birmingham exhibition was over three days, had 30,000 attendees and featured 1,500 exhibitors.

Jools said: “I also got asked to showcase our sauces to a range of six industry experts in a Dragons’ Pantry. The sauces are all based on authentic recipes so the tomato and basil tastes like it was made in Italy, our Creole is true to its New Orleans origin and our curry is to a North India recipe. Our range tastes like you made it yourself, is low in sugar, salt, saturated fats, has no active preservatives and is low in calories. I wanted to use the minimum of ingredients to achieve the best flavour and not use anything poncy; just great produce and a little time and love.”

Four out of the five sauces are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, coeliacs and people with a gluten intolerance. Nowt Poncy sauces are available in Simply Veg in Rawtenstall and Riley’s Butchers in Crawshawbooth, at Benedicts of Whalley, Bowland Food Hall, Clitheroe, and at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire; the products are also sold online. The sauces were devised in Jools and Karen’s kitchen in Water and are now manufactured in a commercial kitchen in Blackburn.

Nowt Poncy will be exhibiting in the Taste Lancashire marquee at The National Festival of Making in Blackburn on May 12 and 13.
For more information log on to www.nowtponcy.co.uk


Story by Catherine Smyth

The 2018 Rossendale Food & Drink Guide Is Here!

A guide to the best food and drink places in Rossendale has been launched. Valley at Work, a not-for-profit organisation that connects local businesses has produced 1,000 copies of the guide, which are being distributed across Rossendale.

Chair of Valley at Work Rob Carder said: “The idea of celebrating the amazing range of food and drink in Rossendale was first mooted in one of our meetings more than two years ago. We looked at a number of different ways to do this, including hosting a food and drink festival. We visited many similar events, but often found that stands at the fairs were taken often by people who were not local. The local providers were too busy doing what they do best – running their shops, restaurants and cafes. So the idea of having a guide was agreed so we would be encouraging people to shop local and it fitted in with the ethos of Valley at Work – to connect local businesses.”

In order to qualify for the guide the providers had to meet strict guidelines starting was food hygiene ratings, which had to be at least Grade 4. For the 2018 guide, the providers needed to have recent ratings of at least a four out of five rating on Trip Advisor or Facebook and grant permission to be included in the guide.

Rob said: “The first guide has 53 different businesses ranging from market stalls to pubs, shops to butchers. They are listed according to areas with a brief description of the town or village where they are based. Members of Valley at Work are distributing the guide to the businesses featured and every business in the guide has been given a distinctive sticker for the window to display to customers. Production costs have been supported by Rossendale Borough Council and several Rossendale Business Award sponsors.”

Valley at Work hopes the guide will become an annual publication and will lead to a much larger celebration of the food and drink community.

Rob added: “A fortnight of co-ordinated events involving the local food and drink businesses is something that we are considering. This would be a more sustainable way of celebrating what Rossendale has to offer than a one-day festival and in the long term it would make a greater impact on the local community by encouraging people to try out local providers.”

Story by Catherine Smyth

Rossendale Food and Drink Guide 2018

That’s the 2017 R-Awards done and dusted!

Valley at Work won’t be starting on the 2018 R-Awards for a few months, and this gives us the ideal opportunity and space to produce the first Rossendale Food & Drink Guide. This will be a printed booklet that celebrates the best food and drink businesses in the area. Rossendale has a wealth of great food and drink businesses, and its about time we showcased them!

To be clear, we’re not just talking about pubs, cafes, restaurants and takeaways, the guide will include retailers and local producers. We want to showcase every type of food and drink business.

Our aim is to publish the guide early in 2018, printing 1000 copies and backing it up with a special page featuring an interactive map on the Valley at Work website. Each featured business will get a special window sticker to celebrate their inclusion in the guide.

Choosing Businesses for the Guide

We were looking for a relatively simple way of selecting the featured businesses that didn’t involve either an entry form, a judging panel or a public vote. In the end we decided that to feature in the 2018 guide, a business would have to:

  • Score at least 4 on their most recent Food Hygiene rating.
  • Be rated highly by their customers on Facebook and/or Trip Advisor – we were looking for recent ratings of at least 4 (out of 5) by several customers.
  • Give us permission to feature them in the guide.

Putting the Guide Together

We have a list of 72 businesses that meet the first two criteria, and we are about to get in touch to seek their permission to feature them in the guide. There is no charge for inclusion, as the costs of producing the first guide the support of Rossendale Borough Council and several R-Award sponsors.

When we have gathered the permissions we need, we will contact each featured business to ask for some simple information to include in the guide, along with any photographs and logos they can let us have. We will then assemble the guide and get it published.

The Future

We’re hoping that we will be able to publish this guide annually, and that it will lead to a much larger annual celebration of our local food and drink business community. Our view has always been that a Rossendale Food & Drink Festival would be a great thing for the area, but only if it happens across all of our food and drink businesses. A one or two-day outdoor festival (like they do in Clitheroe and Accrington) would be brilliant, but a fortnight of coordinated events in the food and drink businesses community would be more sustainable and have a greater impact on the local economy.