Leisure Plans for Weir Farm

IN just three months, a village’s newest residents have created a disabled-friendly holiday let and next month they will take delivery of five alpacas.

Paul and Tina Wise are originally from Essex and moved to Berkshire in 2011 to provide accommodation for their son Aaron, who is profoundly deaf and was relocating to a specialist school. They have now opened Doals Farm Leisure in Weir, Bacup, which is home to ‘The Den’ a self-contained holiday let, will soon offer alpaca trekking and there are plans for a small caravan and camping site.

Aaron, 21, is now studying Physics at the University of Liverpool where their daughter Maria, 23, is just completing a five-year Veterinary course. As their children are planning to stay in the North, Paul, 53 and Tina, 52, and Paul’s mum Betty, 82, began looking for property within a 40-mile radius of Liverpool.

They first spotted Doals Farm off Burnley Road, after Paul was made redundant in 2017. He had been working in IT for the same company for 33 years since leaving school. At that time the property was under offer and disappeared from the market.

Their search took them 40 to 50 properties all over Lancashire, North Yorkshire, North Wales and Cheshire, while they were still looking to sell their own six-bed home in Lambourn. Paul completed a course and has now set up as a domestic electician then last year, a week before they found a buyer for the Berkshire home, they spotted the farm was back on the market.

Paul said: “It was as if someone was looking after us. The previous sale on this had fallen through so we put in an offer.”

They all moved in November and started work on the holiday let three months ago. Paul said: “We are members of the Camping and Caravan Club and we looking into having an area as a certified site.

“We have been members of the Essex County Scouts Caving Team for 30 years and they go on trips in Derbyshire and Yorkshire so now those trips are on our doorstep.

“We have joined Weir Pride and along with Ayesha Gavin of Ayesha Communications, another Weir resident, we ran a Deaf Awareness and British Sign Language workshop at the Doals Centre.”

Tina said: “The community here is fantastic and we have made more friends in the short time we have been living in Weir than the six years we lived in Lambourn. “I am amazed by how much we have in common with the residents in this area we have really fitted in. Thank you to everyone for making us very welcome.”

The couple plan to set up a puppetry group in Weir Baptist Church and a signing choir.

For more information contact Doals Farm Leisure h, like the Facebook page Doals Farm Leisure or email doals.farm@btinternet.com

by Catherine Smyth Media

Business is Booming for Bacup Accountant

ACCOUNTANT Nikki Belshaw has seen her client base grow 10 fold since taking the plunge and opening her own business.

When she completed work experience as a student at the former St Hilda’s RC High School in Burnley, she went into an accountancy department where her task was to input invoices.

Nikki, from Weir, Bacup, said: “I told my mum and granddad how much I enjoyed the work and they suggested that I do it as a job. Another relative was already working as an accountant in a company; I never imagined working for myself.”

Belshaw Bookkeeping Services opened its accountancy practice in Bacup in May 2017 initially in the back room of a former shop on Burnley Road. Nikki said: “At that time I was the only employee and I had seven clients, now there are four of us and we have more than 70 clients from all over the North West and even one in Devon.”

At one stage there were three people working out of what is now Nikki’s office, so when the landlord offered her chance to expand into the former shop, it made perfect sense. The finishing touches have just been made to the premises with a new sign hanging outside and the business name in frosted glass on the windows.

Nikki has a thirst for knowledge, so although she left school at 16 and went into work in the accountant department of car dealership Ford, in Burnley, she also studied at Burnley College completing her Oxford Cambridge RSA Level 1 Bookkeeping and Level 2 Accountancy.

When she worked for Glengarth Construction in Waterfoot, she went to Accrington and Rossendale College and added the Association of Accounting Technicians qualification. At Neales Waste Management in Blackburn she opted to study at Manchester Metropolitan University and passed her industry qualification – a CIMA. While working at Domino’s Pizza covering six outlets she was responsible for the payroll of 356 staff and of course she also studied. This time she gained Level 1 and 2 qualifications from the International Association of Bookkeepers.

Since becoming self-employed and then opening the business, Nikki has also become a forensic accountant and so examines financial divorce settlements and also works on fraud. In 2017 she was runner-up in an international competition to find the Payroll Professional of the Year and attended a glittering presentation at the House of Commons. She has also been nominated in the Rossendale Business Awards and Inspiring Woman Award.

Nikki, 31, is married to Jonny and has two children Hayden, nine, and Charlie, five. She said: “When I met Jonny and he said I really should be working for myself I decided that I wanted to have my own business by the time I was 30. I did it with six months to go.

“I now employ a receptionist, an apprentice and have a part-time member of staff. I take on work experience because I want to give a young person the opportunity to learn because I was given work experience when I was at school.”

To find out more visit www.belshawbs.co.uk, call Nikki on 01706 873325 or email nikki@belshawbs.co.uk

by Catherine Smyth Media

Sophie Lancaster Book Examined at Fundraiser

A SPECIAL evening to discuss and debate the murder of Sophie Lancaster will be held at her former school.

In response to a request from Sylvia, Sophie’s mother, a fundraising event will be held at Haslingden High School Sixth Form Centre on Monday June 3 at 7pm when the tables will be turned on journalist Catherine Smyth, author of ‘Weirdo Mosher Freak’, which documents the murder.

Catherine said: “Last year I led an interview with the author Denise Beddows about her book ‘Odd Man Out – a Motiveless Murder’. That detailed a murder that happened 70 years ago. Maggie Allen confessed and was later hanged for the murder of Nancy Chadwick. I was tasked to examine the book and put questions to the author in front of an audience at Rawtenstall Cricket Club.”

Director of Antony and Patricia Salon, in Rawtenstall, Tony Winder organised the Denise Beddows’ evening, which Sylvia was unfortunately not able to attend. He said: “Shortly after, while Sylvia was having her hair done, we were discussing the evening and she said, ‘I wish someone would do that about our Soph.’ That was the catalyst which has led to June’s event being organised.”

In the audience for the Denise Beddows’ interview was Garry Gluyas, who was brought up in Rossendale, and is a good friend of Tony. He has agreed to conduct the interview and has been examining Catherine’s book, both the original 2010 ‘Weirdo Mosher Freak’ and the updated 2016 version ‘The Sophie Lancaster Story’.

Catherine said: “This time I will be the person being interviewed and for me it will be strange not to be putting the questions. I was the news editor of the Rossendale Free Press at the time of the attack in August 2007 which resulted in Sophie’s murder 13 days later.

“As I only lived two miles from the park and Bacup was ‘my patch’, I was informed about the incident by a friend before statements had been released by the police. I followed the case closely and got involved with fundraising because I was annoyed that such a senseless act had happened on my doorstep.”

Tony, Catherine, Garry and Sylvia have collaborated to arrange the evening.

Sylvia will set the scene by describing her daughter and both Sylvia and Catherine will be answering questions from the audience. Sylvia said: “If you don’t talk about things you don’t learn from them. We have to look at why this happened and how it came about so that lessons are learnt to stop it ever occurring again.”

All profits from the evening will benefit The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and tickets are on sale priced £5 from Antony & Patricia Salon, Rawtenstall, 01706 217129. Copies of Catherine’s book ‘Weirdo Mosher Freak’ will also be on sale.

Nowt Poncy Sauce Now on Shelves of Booths

Copyright Tim Bradley

NESTLED between Loyd Grossman, Napolina and Dolmio – Rossendale’s own sauce brand Nowt Poncy now sits proudly on the shelves of Booths supermarkets.

Owners of the company, based in Water, Jools Abel and Karen Walker can’t believe how far their sauces have come since they decided in December 2015 to give them away as Christmas presents. At that time, Karen had just finished in her role as a Headteacher because of stress and Jools was in need of a new challenge, having run his own businesses for 30 years.

Karen said: “The feedback we got was so brilliant that the cogs stated to turn and The Nowt Poncy Food Company was launched in August 2016.”

The couple, both in their 50s, met at Manchester Polytechnic and they enjoyed eating out. Because nouvelle cuisine was the trend at the time, they used to look for good quality, tasty, simple food – that they styled ‘nowt poncy’.

Booths has added 175 new products to their international food range and they were looking for authentic handmade artisan foods – so Nowt Poncy fitted the bill.

Jools said: “I was at a conference in May last year when I heard a senior manager from Booths speak about their love of artisan products. We were later invited to a ‘Meet the Buyer’ day at Booths in the summer.”

Karen said: “We took all of our products along and we had 15 minutes to do a pitch. In January this year the buyer came back to us to say they were interested in stocking our Italian range, Arrabbiata, Tomato and Basil and the L’Amore É Pizza sauce.”

The first was delivered on March 22 and the sauces launched in all 28 stores at the beginning of April.

Jools said: “We knew we could make something better than what was available on the supermarket shelves. We knew that we could create something that tasted amazing and still have our sauces be low in sugar, salt and calories and with no preservatives. If someone had told me two-and-a-half years ago that our sauces would be on the supermarket shelves I would have never believed them.”

Booths Buyer Haris Deane said: “Booths is renowned for supporting emerging brands and championing the artisan producer and that ethos extends to International flavours. We look for exceptional products made by people who care about quality, taste and flavour. Booths are stocking some great tasting products with a story to tell and Nowt Poncy fits the bill.”

Nowt Poncy sauces and pasta are already available in more than 70 outlets mostly across the North but also in London as well as being sold online.

Now the 28 Booths supermarkets across the North West in Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Yorkshire also stock their Nowt Poncy Italian sauces.

The company also donates to local charity Veterans In Communities from every sauce bottle sold.

by Catherine Smyth Mediahttps://catherinesmyth.co.uk/

Primary Pupils Become Deaf Aware

ALL 203 pupils from a Baxenden primary school learnt about deaf issues and finger spelling at a special Deaf Awareness Day.

Five-year-old Alex Gibson is in the Reception class at St John’s CE School and although he had glue ear as a baby and had two operations to fit grommets, it was not until November last year that his family had it confirmed he was deaf and needed hearing aids.

His parents Daniel and Debbie and older sister Abigail, six, along with Alex are all learning British Sign Language Level 1. Their tutor and friend is Ayesha Gavin, from Ayesha Communications, based in Weir, and as part of Deaf Awareness Week, Debbie sought funding from seven local businesses so the special day could be held at her children’s school.

Ayesha spoke to each class to make them more aware of deaf issues and let them hear what sounds are like through a hearing aid and she was accompanied by her personal communications assistant Mark Gavin who signed the children’s responses.

Debbie taught the pupils about sign language, how to finger spell and how to spell their name and the pupils also used special stamps to create their own bookmarks with their name spelt out in signs.

Alex loved being able to teach his ‘special language’ to his friends.

Debbie said: “I completed my Level 1 British Sign Language 20 years ago when I worked in customer service because a deaf man came in and I couldn’t communicate with him. I then learnt it so I could communicate with all customers.

“When we found out Alex would be wearing hearing aids, I said he also needed to learn sign language because I want him to be able to live in both worlds.”

She sourced sponsorship from the Bay Horse in Baxenden, the Dog and Partridge, Clearview, Scott Clean Services, M Neal Builders, Tiger Lounge and The Beauty Emporium to pay for the day.

Ayesha said: “It has been a very busy day and the pupils have responded brilliantly. They asked good questions and they really thought about the subject.

“We had one child say that if you shout at a deaf person you can make them really anxious because they didn’t understand you and when I asked what they can do to support someone who is deaf one child said that you should just, ‘be loving’.”

Headteacher Julie Green said: “Debbie organised funding for the day and I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for all the pupils in the school to learn more about sign language and be more aware about deaf issues.”

Ayesha Communications will be holding special family evening British Sign Language classes to learn the basics of British Sign Language and help to break down barriers. These are open to all, deaf and hearing, school children and home schooled.

The company will be hiring venues in Burnley, Bolton, Halifax, Littleborough and Rossendale to run the sessions and from September, Debbie will be delivering the evening class for children aged 6-13 and families in the Hyndburn area.

For more information visit http://www.ayeshacommunications.com/

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

International opera star Sean Ruane and friends take to Bacup theatre stage

Sean Ruane Photos Liz Henson Photography

A SHOWCASE of home grown talent will be given a huge stage when tenor Sean Ruane returns to his roots – Bacup Royal Court Theatre.

The international opera star started his career in the theatre’s footlights and is delighted to be able to offer a variety of local acts the chance to perform in the 500-seater auditorium.

Sean said: “This is not about me it is about giving the incredible talent that we have in Rossendale a platform. This night will be much more than just opera; it will be a real variety show with something for everyone. The Lomax Brothers Aaron and Guy are in-between ships and cruises on Friday May 31 and so fortunately they are able to bring their original musical act to the stage.

“Since September I have been working with Linsey Hernon to set up St Anne’s Community Choir in Edgeside and their musical director is Ruth McCartney. The choir has between 35-40 members aged from Year 6 in primary school right up to singers in their 70s and they are absolutely brilliant. Linsey approached me to help set up the choir and an outreach programme for St Anne’s.”

He said the choir’s largest audience had been in the church and so the Bacup performance will be a huge venue and the funds they will raise by attending the event will help to keep the choir going.

Singers Jade Schofield and Rachel Spencer, who owns Sophia Management and Casting Agency, will also be performing. Sean said: “Rachel is a really good singer and Jade is in Valley Aloud Community Choir and has experience of performing. I want her to take it to the next level and give her the experience of going solo.”

From starting as a singer in Bacup, Sean’s career has taken him all over the world to sing on many different stages and sporting venues. He now runs his own company Chant Productions, working with young people, groups and businesses to develop choirs and perform.

He said: “I wanted to put on the show because in Rossendale we have really good singers here because of their vowels, ok sometimes you have to correct their pronunciation, but they have a real quality in their voices.”

Also taking to the stage will be 12-year-old Danny Dunning and 11-year-old Max Harwood-Lomax – who has inherited his father’s performance skills. Sean spotted Danny’s potential when he was singing a Hymn in a concert at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School that he was attending. Fortunately he already knew his dad Robert because he has tuned Sean’s pianos.

He said: “His dad sent me videos of Danny singing and I asked if he could perform in the concert – before his voice drops and he becomes a baritone.”

Tickets for the one night only show on Friday May 31 at 7.30pm are available at Wishes Galore in Rochdale Road, Bacup, priced £12.

by Catherine Smyth Media

Valley packed with events for first Rossendale Heritage Festival

2018 Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival – photo: Liz Henson Photography

A HUGE summer heritage festival will see 10 days of activities and events held across Rossendale for all cultures and ages.

The first Rossendale Heritage Festival will run from Friday June 28 to Sunday July 7 beginning with an event at The Boo Theatre in Waterfoot and concluding with the annual festival service at historic Goodshaw Chapel.

Activities will begin in earnest on Saturday June 29 when South Asian heritage and arts group Apna Rossendale will be holding an event in Haslingden. That first weekend will round off with the traditional Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival, which this year is celebrating the centenary of the Peace Procession of 1919, the forerunner of the present day event.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant has been obtained by Bacup Natural History Society to help youth groups and schools recreate parade entries from 100 years ago. Artist in residence at The Boo Alastair Price is the parade and outreach co-ordinator for Waterfoot Wakes, a two-day festival that will be held on July 6 and 7 at the end of the festival.

He said: “When we held the first Waterfoot Wakes last year we realised that there seemed to be a lot of events happening in Rossendale over a short period of time in the early summer. We thought a heritage festival would be a great way of bringing all kinds of different events together under one umbrella. It will mean all of the activities will be better promoted and we will make sure people get to know more about what is going on.”

Cacophony Arkestra lead the Waterfoot Wakes 2018

Rossendale Heritage Festival is being backed by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant secured by CAST – Community Assets Standing Tall – a charity set up to identify and preserve assets that the community values.

A small group has been formed of representatives from the different events and information for a programme is currently being compiled. Alastair will be running a series of workshops to help participants make parade entries for the carnival and also the Waterfoot Wakes procession and these visual representations will be based around assets that CAST has identified. At the same time as Waterfoot Wakes, Rawtenstall Annual Fair will be happening with events all weekend at The Whitaker in Rawtenstall.

Fair organiser Sid Calderbank is Chairman of The Lancashire Society and is co-ordinating a large group of performers who will be taking to the stage to keep traditional Lancashire dialect songs and poetry alive for present generations.

Alastair is also a member of Cacophony Arkestra – a musical carnival procession entry that will be appearing in both parades. He said: “The festival will be a cultural celebration and will be an opportunity to bring together people of all ages and communities. We have a living heritage and it is about making that accessible to a modern day audience.”

Organisers are keen to hear of heritage related events and meetings that are happening over duration of the festival so they can be publicised in the programme. For more information contact Esther Ferry-Kennington at the Horse and Bamboo Theatre on 01706 220241 or email esther@horseandbamboo.org

Nowt Poncy and VIC join forces

A SAUCE manufacturer and a veterans’ charity have joined forces.

The Nowt Poncy Food Company was founded in Water, Rossendale, in 2016 and now has five successful sauces, which sell UK-wide. Co-founders Jools and Karen Abel wanted to make sure their business gave something back and as Jools’ father was in the Royal Navy and Karen’s father completed his National Service they chose to link up with Veterans In Communities. The Haslingden-based veterans’ charity works all over East Lancashire and also parts of Greater Manchester.

Karen, a former headteacher, and Jools, a time-served mechanical engineer who spent time in the photographic equipment repair industry, now work full-time building their business and brand. Karen said: “We have lived in Rossendale for 30 years and we have read about VIC and the work the charity does in the newspapers.

“When we first started the business we said that once we take on staff we wanted to employ veterans. We would like to be able to offer veterans a chance and also help them to resettle in Civvy Street. As veterans they will be used to following specific methodology and so they will have the skills that we are looking for.

“The training they have had will be something they can bring to our business and we are very committed to the idea of giving back.”

Nowt Poncy is currently seeking to relocate its manufacturing base from Hyndburn to Rossendale and is looking for commercial kitchens that are maybe underused and could offer to rent their premises.

All the company’s sauces are based on authentic recipes including an Italian tomato and basil, a New Orleans based Creole and a North Indian curry. They also supply seven types of pasta. The company’s products are available in 70 retailers across the UK, predominantly in the North. Nowt Poncy has also just begun supplying an outlet in London. Locally, they sell sauces in Rowan’s Butcher’s in Waterfoot, Riley’s Butchers in Crawshawbooth, Simply Vegetarian in Rawtenstall and the town’s market.

Jools said: “To start with we will be providing VIC with a small percentage from all the sauces we sell. We are also offering to support social events that VIC arranges when they are providing catering and we will provide contributions towards emergency food parcels for veterans.”

The VIC Centre in Bury Road is open during the holiday period when other charities close, and when it ‘opens all hours’ food is always provided for those who drop in to enjoy the banter.

Operations Manager Bob Elliott said: “We are very grateful to Nowt Poncy for the generous offer of support for VIC. This is a partnership which we hope will be able to grow and develop over the years to the benefit of both organisations and hopefully will also lead to job opportunities for veterans who have left the armed forces and are transitioning to civilian life.”

To find out more about Nowt Poncy visit www.nowtponcy.co.uk

By Catherine Smyth Media