Burnley Lifestyle 2023

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Katie McGee

If you have a local lifestyle story you think would be of interest to our readers contact kmcgee@burnley.gov.uk


Lead Magazine

Photographer: Andy Ford (andyford@mac.com)

Burnley Football Club, UCLan, Burnley College, Stephen Wilson (granddayoutphotography.co.uk)


The Cork House

Rowenna Baldwin

Paul Barlow

Rachel Bayley

Heather Bullock

Burnley Football Club

MJ Hindman

Jeremy Richards

Jordan North

Alisha Panners

Pendleside Hospice

Luke Pollard

REEL Cinema

Icaro Lounge


Nick Cassidy

Agneta Pobat Bawa


To find out more about advertising in the magazine email kmcgee@burnley.gov.uk



Welcome to the latest issue of Burnley Lifestyle, which I’m excited to tell you is now being published twice a year. There’s simply too much going on to fit in one magazine, so from now on we will be bring you an autumn/winter issue in September and a spring/summer issue in March.

Since the 2022 edition, there’s been plenty of exciting developments happening in Burnley. Pioneer Place is, at the time of writing, almost complete.

The complex, which is home to REEL Cinema and five hospitality brands, is a fantastic addition to our Burnley town centre offering. More on that in our feature on Cinderella Nights, perfect for those who need to be home before the clock strikes midnight!

The borough went football crazy when Burnley FC were crowned Champions of the EFL Championship, and we have a whole section dedicated to this. What better way to celebrate Burnley’s return to the Premier League than an interview with our homegrown-star Jay Rodriguez. Jay is Burnley through-and-through, and it was a pleasure to meet him at Pendleside Hospice to talk about his role as an ambassador for the charity and why he’s so proud of his roots.

Jay’s not the only homegrown sporting talent in the borough, as you’ll see from our feature on the Active Burnley Awards and profile on rising stars of the future. From trail runners to rugby players - we’ve got all bases covered.

Talking of stars, we’ve spoken to two people whose jobs involve working with plenty of celebrities. Emma Morris, TV producer and editor and William Foley, celebrity facialist, talk to us about what has brought them back to Burnley and how you don’t need to live in a big city to have a thriving career.

As well as inspiring people, we take a look at some of our amazing places. Lower St James’s Street is undergoing a transformation into the cultural cornerstone of our borough, with The Salon art gallery firmly at the heart of this. The street is also home to Via Roma, a men’s clothing store, which prides itself on stocking high-end designer brands.

With people from around the world coming to study in Burnley, we thought we’d find out what a typical week in the life of a student in Burnley involved. It’s great to see visitors to Burnley discovering some of our more popular spots and uncovering some hidden gems.

We always love to hear what you think about the magazine, so please fill in the questionnaire on page 12. By giving your feedback, you can also be entered into a prize draw to win VIP REEL Cinema tickets and a £50 voucher to spend at Icaro Lounge!

Enjoy discovering more about our brilliant borough. ©

- Editor -

Burnley Council 2023. Jb_18829 creative-council.net

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Send your feedback - prize draw

A week in the life of a student

50 years of building Burnley’s imagination

Joy Wilkinson

Salon des Beaux-Arts Burnley

High end on the high street

Foysol Alkaatib

From Syria to Lebanon to Burnley

Lights, camera, actionthe history of filmmaking in Burnley

Cinderella nights

Meet Ryan Evans

A cut above

Burnley FC - our town, our people, our community

Burnley FC and me

Q+A with JJ and Kealia Watt

Jay Rodriguez - he’s one of our own

My claret and blue

Ashley Barnes track still going strong Active Burnley Awards

Burnley’s rising sports stars

Chris Holdsworth

My Burnley home - Emma Morris

William Foley - back home in beautiful Burnley Perfect presents on your doorstep

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92 99 52 69 News
in this issue...

New community venue opens in Burnley town centre

The Down Town community venue has come to Burnley town centre, opening its doors in May 2023. Based on the Burnley market balcony, above New Look in Charter Walk Shopping Centre, Down Town is an amazing place where people can go and receive a range of information, advice and guidance.

Down Town is run by Burnley Together; a strategic partnership of local charities and businesses, which was initially created in response to the pandemic, but now operates to support the communities of Burnley and Padiham.

The venue offers a unique approach by offering wrap around care to the community. It is made up of the following:

The Community Grocery

Inside the large spacious area is the Community Grocery; where you can select fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery items, fridge freezer and shelf items – everything you would need for your weekly shop.

As well as providing affordable produce, the grocery aims to provide opportunities for everyone to feel connected to their community and reduce isolation.

The grocery is run in partnership by The Message Trust and Life Church Lancashire.

To sign up to be a member at one of the Community Groceries, all you need to do is visit your nearest store and let one of the team know it’s your first time. They will then complete a membership form with you and explain all about how the groceries work. There is an initial £5 annual membership fee. Once you’re a member, you can go along to the Community Grocery multiple times a week and fill up your basket.

There is also a pay-it-forward board whereby you can pay for someone else’s groceries.

Down Town kitchen & cafe

The Down Town kitchen and cafe is run by the Burnley Leisure and Culture Group. They serve hot and cold beverages, and they have a good variety of food available on their menu. There is a high-quality service with reasonable prices for tasty food which is volunteer led and not for profit. The money made here will be used to help pay for staff who will be running the cookery school. Again, there’s an ethos of paying it forward where you can pay for a meal for someone else.

The cookery school

Burnley Leisure and Culture offer cooking lessons, giving people the knowledge and skills to make things themselves and reduce food waste where possible. They will come away knowing how to create healthy and delicious soups, bread and there will be cake making lessons too! There will be full day courses available to book onto. The facility will also host the first ever Young MasterChef Cookery School, funded by the holiday activities and food programme and open to children who receive free school meals.

Wrap around support

As well as popping in to do a weekly shop or for to visit the cafe, people can visit Down Town to receive support, information and advice on areas such as finances, housing, skills and employability and health and wellbeing. The support is provided by the partner services of Burnley Together. Many courses are on offer, call in and ask for more details.

The uniform shop

Also in this wide-ranging interior is the uniform shop, where uniforms have been donated. Each child can have up to two full uniforms for a small monetary donation, if you are able. If you have any clean wearable uniforms that you no longer need, you are welcome to donate them here.

Book exchange

Within the seating area of Down Town there is a growing book exchange. It’s a safe and comfortable space where you can relax, sit and read at leisure or take away a book to read.

Down Town is open Monday-Friday; the Community Grocery and uniform shop are open 9am-4pm and the kitchen and cafe are open 10.30am-2.30pm.

You can find Down Town at 83 Market House, Charter Walk Shopping Centre, Burnley.


Burnley town centre businesses recognised at awards ceremony

A range of Burnley’s businesses have been celebrated and their efforts recognised following the inaugural Burnley Business Improvement District (BID) Customer Service Awards.

Organised by Burnley BID with support from Charter Walk and Burnley Council, who was the headline sponsor, the awards culminated with an official ceremony held at the Burnley Mechanics Theatre in July 2023.

The idea behind the awards was to shine a spotlight on the great customer service that the town’s retailers, independent businesses and hospitality venues demonstrate on a daily basis.

Throughout May 2023, mystery shop visits took place across 65 different shops, bars, restaurants and service providers by industry leaders Storecheckers, who measured businesses on various standards including customer service and visitor experience.

Winners were chosen through the information gathered during the mystery shop visits, along with a judging panel featuring Cllr Mark Townsend, business consultant Carole Garrett and Kate Ingram, director of Economy and Development at Burnley Council.

Categories included: Burnley Town Centre Ambassador of the Year, Independent Retailer of the Year, National Retailer of the Year, Food Retailer of the Year and Service Provider of the Year, while there was also an award for Employee of the Year which was decided by a public vote.

Attendees at the awards ceremony were treated to an evening of entertainment, fun and games, with a Christmas theme chosen as retailers and those in the hospitality industry often work over the festive period.

Jane Hough, deputy director for Business Improvement Districts and

Business Services at Groundworks, attended the awards ceremony and has spoken about her admiration for Burnley’s businesses.

“Burnley is a fantastic town with a business community that puts the collective before the individual, in the process creating this incredible environment of togetherness.

“As part of this, the customer service they demonstrate is second to none. This is why we felt it was imperative to create a vessel for acknowledging and celebrating their achievements.”

For a full run down of the award winners, and a gallery of images please head over to discoverburnley.co.uk

For the latest updates from around the town, make sure you’re following the Discover Burnley Facebook page: facebook.com/DiscoverBurnley.


Gawthorpe Textiles Collection has a new director at the helm. Linda Drury is a highly experienced charity, finance and project manager who has held senior positions with both regional and national charities.

She became aware of the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection whilst studying for a City and Guilds in embroidery and when the position for director was announced, she decided to apply.

Linda said: “I was immediately drawn to the history of the collection and was full of admiration for Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth’s passion to preserve traditional craft skills and to share knowledge, skills and expertise across cultures.

New director appointed for the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

“I was delighted to hear that I had been accepted for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Now, settled into the role, I am finding out new things about the collection every single day and it is truly fascinating.

“There are some 30,000 items within the collection from around the world and each piece plays an important role in unpicking the heritage of embroidery and textiles. Many are intricate pieces created by Rachel KayShuttleworth herself or collected as part of her avid learning journey.

“It really is a treasure trove of textile memorabilia and I am proud to be able to join the team in sharing these items with the public as she would have wished.”

Linda has taken up her post at an exciting time for the organisation, which is currently working on an 18-month project called Cherish the Past, Create for the Future.

The project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will help digitise and modernise the textiles collection. Items from the collection will be photographed, categorised and digitised to improve virtual access. There is also funding within the project to modernise the textile displays at Gawthorpe Hall by introducing new perspectives and stories and bringing them to life with audio and film.

Find out more at www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk


Eleven of Burnley’s tennis courts have reopened following a £58,860 renovation. They are in Burnley’s Scott Park, Ightenhill Park, Queen’s Park and Padiham’s Memorial Park.

The work has been paid for by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the government and Burnley Council. This nationwide programme of investment is seeing thousands of existing park tennis courts in poor or unplayable condition brought back to life for the

benefit of communities across the country, providing vital opportunities for children and adults to get active.

As well as weekly free park tennis sessions, with equipment provided, the new courts will host local tennis leagues, giving people the opportunity to get involved in friendly and local competitions.

All courts are available to book via the LTA website. The new booking systems and gate access technology means it is now easier to get on court by booking

in advance to guarantee availability.

There are two options when booking a court; pay and play at £3 an hour or you can buy a season ticket which is £35 for the year for up to five people per household. With this, you can play at any of the four sites throughout the year. These small fees will ensure that the courts are maintained at their new high standard for years to come.

If you fancy trying your hand at tennis visit www.lta.org.uk/play


Pendleside Hospice celebrates its 35th anniversary

Pendleside Hospice has come a long way since its inception in 1988 and it is with thanks to the Burnley and Pendle communities that it continues to flourish year-on-year. However, the care and continual increase in service offerings wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for local pioneer, founder and chairman of Pendleside Hospice, Miss Muriel Jobling MBE.

Realising the lack of support in the local area, after seeing her cleaner suffer a facial cancer, Miss Jobling made it her priority to build a safe space for those in need of palliative care, as well as ongoing support and treatment. Miss Jobling, who passed away in 2019, has left a legacy in her wake; building the hospice from what began as a small day care unit with limited space, to a ten-bed inpatient centre, along with various day therapy sessions and a 24-hour Hospice at Home service.

Pendleside Hospice proudly continues to build upon Miss Jobling’s success and has been marking its 35th ‘birthday’, with a number of unique celebrations and fundraising events throughout the course of the year.

The hospice launched its first-ever Memories On The Lake event in May, which took place at Thompson Park. A beautiful occasion, which saw over 400 personalised lanterns released across the

lake, containing messages people had added dedicated to their loved ones. The successful event brought the local community together to remember and share stories of their lost loved ones.

Patients and service users have also been embarking on a 35-mile challenge throughout August and September, collectively building up approximately 80,000 steps between them all over a six-week period. Whilst there have been physical barriers to the challenge, mentally, many of the patients and service users have been determined to be a part of something special. It has given them a sense of pride and achievement - as well as being a part of something fun!

The start of June also saw the launch of Pendleside’s annual Corporate Challenge, with nearly 70 businesses from around Burnley and Pendle joining in to raise as much money as possible for Pendleside. The Corporate Challenge plays a major part in the hospice’s fundraising mission, with £208,296 being raised in 2022. This is an incredible amount, which the hospice is truly grateful for.

Helen McVey, chief executive of Pendleside Hospice, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people get involved in celebrating Pendeside’s very special 35th anniversary year. From our local community to our dedicated staff and

volunteers, and from our patients and service users to our corporate fundraisers, we are grateful to all of those who continue to support Pendleside Hospice, enabling us to keep delivering our services to those who need our care.”

The hospice exists to promote and enhance quality of life for people with life-limiting illnesses, their families and carers, by delivering specialist and holistic palliative care. The care which the hospice provides is free of charge to those within the Burnley and Pendle communities; therefore Pendleside Hospice relies on the generosity and support of those who continually fundraise, donate and selflessly volunteer their time to keep the hospice and its other services running. These services include: in-patient unit; hospice at home; family bereavement support; health, wellbeing and rehabilitation day services and meals on wheels. The Hospice also offers complementary therapies such as reflexology and aromatherapy.

If you wish to support Pendleside, there are many ways you can do so. You can donate directly by visiting www. pendleside.org.uk, take part in one of the upcoming events, or if you have an idea for your own fundraising event, please get in touch with their fundraising team on fundraising@pendleside.org.uk

Photographer, Jon Thompson

“Sense–sational” Sensory Garden opens in Charter Walk Shopping Centre Burnley

Charter Walk describes itself as the premier shopping destination in East Lancashire, filled with 85 independent shops and large chains alike. Most of us will have grabbed a coffee on the high street or spent many Saturdays perusing the shops. Over the years, Charter Walk has been a hub for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Over the last five years the Centre has developed an extensive relationship with the neurodiverse community of Burnley and introduced many initiatives such as sensory back packs, autism packs, virtual tours, quiet hours, dedicated quiet spaces and hidden disability landyards. In light of its diverse range of visitors and following on from the launch of the very successful Sensory Room, in March 2023, the centre officially opened a sensory garden located in Chancery Walk (next to Clinton Cards).

The garden was designed by Dr Jacqui Jackson, who has a PHD in the field of design and the impact of the built and digital environment on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She speaks on topics around autism such as family or employment, as well as this, she is a mother to eight children of whom five have multiple diagnoses of

ADHD and ASD. The garden walkway transformed the existing Budding Burnley Allotment into a multifaceted and multifunctional area which puts the local community at the heart of all the activities that the centre will host.

Debbie Hernon, centre manager at Charter Walk Shopping Centre, commented: “We are very pleased to launch the Sensory Walkway here at Charter Walk. Having won the Diversity and Inclusion Scheme of the year at the 2022 SCEPTRE awards we now want to improve on that again to enhance our customer experience. Our sensory walkway builds upon the disability improvements we have already made and promotes inclusivity throughout the centre, which is one thing we strive on. We’ve been shortlisted in three categories this year for the 2023 awards, which we are thrilled about.”

The SCEPTRE awards recognise the best practice and the best people in the shopping centre industry.

So, what is a sensory garden? Sensory gardens are self-contained areas that are publicly open to all visitors who can come to enjoy sensory experiences. They are typically designed to provide opportunities to stimulate the senses, to

one or more of our five senses. Charter Walk has met this with planters with colourful flowers, and scented herbs, audio stimulants of bird calls to create a peaceful environment, physical additions like steppingstones and even an area that encourages talking in the form of a welcome bench. Sensory gardens are designed to be accessible for all people to enjoy including those who have disabilities and impairments. Some sensory gardens, just like the one at Charter Walk, also include educational applications, such as the bug hotel. It also provides a quiet, calming space, whether you need some time to relax, eat your lunch or have some time with your thoughts.

The sensory garden builds on Charter Walk’s award-winning Budding Burnley scheme, which sees volunteers tending to the garden and adjoining allotment. They grow fruit and vegetables which are donated to local food banks.

If you’d like to get involved or find out more information you can visit visit charterwalk.com or email buddingburnley@charterwalk.com.


Towneley Hall celebrates 120 years as renovation works continue

Towneley Hall, Art Gallery and Museum is set in over 400 acres of historic parkland in Towneley Park. The Grade 1-listed hall is a jewel in Burnley’s crown and has always been much loved by residents who are passionate and proud of their local heritage, holding the beautiful hall close to their hearts. People visit from far and wide for its stunning architecture, rich heritage, fine collections, period rooms, events and weddings.

The Towneley family lived in the hall for 600 years, and in 1901 the last family member to live there, Lady O’Hagan, sold the hall and grounds to Burnley Corporation for £17,500. In 1902 Towneley Park was opened to the public and shortly after the hall opened as a visitor attraction, museum and gallery.

As 120-year anniversary celebrations take place, Burnley Council is investing in major restoration works to ensure

the important historic building is protected and preserved so future generations can continue to visit and enjoy. Supported with funds from Arts Council England’s MEND programme, the £4.5m programme of works undertaken by Historic Property Conservation Ltd will be ongoing until the end of 2024.

The three wings of Towneley Hall will be re-roofed with new slates and gutters and rainwater systems replaced to prevent water ingress and damage. Stonework is being repointed and some sections rebuilt to strengthen areas at risk of collapse. The 130 windows will be repaired and repainted.

The 1730s ornate plaster ceiling in the Great Hall is being repaired to make it safe and return it to its former glory. In the South Wing, work in the Long Gallery will stabilise ceilings above the Regency Rooms which will also be restored and re-painted in the original

historic colour scheme. The art gallery will also see new environmental control systems so that Towneley’s important art collection can be kept in good condition.

Some parts of Towneley Hall are temporarily closed to the public whilst restoration is taking place, however the intention is to keep as much of the hall open to visitors as possible and the entry ticket price has been reduced accordingly. Visitors should check the website for details of what areas of the hall are open before visiting (www. towneley.org.uk). School workshops are continuing, and the gift shop will remain open throughout the works.

The council are seeking grants and further investment to improve the visitor experience inside the hall, and is very much looking forward the start of its new era in 2025.

Boarded South Tower roof before the slates are put on Roof restoration works and the re-building of the historic chimney using original stone and new stone.
© Historic Property Restoration Ltd

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To celebrate the opening of Pioneer Place we have a fantastic prize for one lucky winner to receive: VIP package from REEL Cinema for you and a friend which includes: REEL Lounge cinema ticket, soft drink or beer, popcorn or nachos and Magnum Classic ice cream.

To make the most of your trip you’ll also receive a £50 voucher for Icaro Lounge at Pioneer Place, Burnley to enjoy a pre or post film meal. One runner up will receive VIP cinema tickets for themselves and a friend.

All you need to do is fill in this short feedback questionnaire scan the QR code or visit www.burnley.co.uk/feedback23

Closing date for entries: 11pm on Friday 23 February 2024. Winners will be chosen at random and will be notified by 1st March 2024 using the contact details provided. Full terms and conditions can be found at www.burnley.co.uk/feedback23


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Many people don’t realise that we have students from all over the country, and even all over the world, living in Burnley.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been expanding in Burnley – primarily at the Victoria Mill site on Trafalgar street – for the past few years and are on track to hit their targeted 4,000 students by 2025.

On top of this, Sandygate Halls were opened in 2020, offering UCLan students a chance to have a taste of life in Burnley during their academic terms.

I wanted an insight into the typical day-to-day life of a student living at Sandygate Halls. This gives us an an external perspective of the area and a perspective of student life which is quite a difference from the hustle-and-bustle of a large city.

Agneta Pobat Bawa, who is originally from Camberley, near London, has just completed her first year of Medical Science at UCLan. Agneta was the perfect case study; not only is she from outside of Lancashire, but she is also a social ambassador for UCLan Burnley, meaning she’s quite used to creating vlogs and content promoting student life in the town. She kindly took time out of her busy student schedule to give me a valuable insight into her life.


We started the week at UCLan’s fascinating medical training facilities. This is something that most residents may not realise is in Burnley.

The university has equipped Victoria Mill with top-spec facilities for the many medical science students they have attending.

“My favourite module so far has probably been anatomy,” says Agneta. “They’ve got an amazing high-tech virtual anatomy table which is interactive, so you can really engage with what you’re learning.”


A notable difference to living and studying in Burnley compared to the big cities is the accessibility to our many stunningly-kept green spaces.

It was interesting to hear Agneta’s first impressions of Burnley in regard to our natural countryside: “Coming in on the train for the first time and seeing all of the nature and countryside with flocks of sheep on the hills was so nice to see.

“I’m not much of an outdoorsy person normally, but I still like to take a walk in Thompson Park every now and again. The canal is just a few steps from my accommodation as well, which is convenient for a walk.”



A hard day of studying, lectures or revising often calls for an evening of doing absolutely nothing.

Sandygate Halls is miles ahead of most accommodations when it comes to relaxing after a hard day’s graft, with plenty to do and comfy, spacious common areas.

It even has a cinema room equipped with Netflix, where they often wind-down with a movie or series. The Student Union sometimes hosts pizza evenings where students can indulge in free food whilst enjoying a big-screen movie.

No pizzas this Thursday, though; Agneta ordered from one of her favourites: Big Buns Burgers – a town centre burger bar which is popular with students (I’ve heard good things about The Dolly Parton Burger).


With students from across the UK (and some from abroad), Sandygate Halls comes across as a welcoming environment where everybody is friends with everybody.

When they’re not socialising in the halls or UCLan’s student hub, Agneta and the other Sandygate students go to Ships and Giggles at the weekend.

Ships and Giggles, or ‘Ships’, has a sister bar over in Preston which is also popular with students, so it’s a familiar setting for those visiting from the Preston campus or vice versa.

If you’re into loud music (and cheap drinks) as many students are, this is the place to be on a Saturday night.


Even with a busy university schedule and social life, Agneta and her friends still find time to get involved with charity work. Twice a week, Agneta volunteers at Glad Rags, a town centre charity shop. It’s fantastic to see students embracing the Burnley community with open arms.

With Glad Rags being just a stone’s throw away, Agneta then started attending St Peter’s Leisure Centre after volunteering. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that all UCLan students get free access to the leisure facilities at St Peter’s Leisure Centre, including the gym, sauna and the swimming baths.

“I try to go twice a week after volunteering to stay active, whether it’s the gym, swimming or sometimes volleyball. They’ve got great facilities there so we’re lucky to gain free access.”


After another day of lectures, volunteering and working out, it’s time for a stroll into town for a little exploration. I love how Agneta came across one of Burnley’s many hidden gems, Empire Theatre Bar on Lower St James’s Street, completely by accident:

“I love socialising with friends but sometimes it’s good to spend some time to yourself and go for a wander. In my first week I started exploring the town centre and came across this cute little bar right down the road from my accommodation.

“I now go down to Empire Theatre Bar regularly when I’ve got nothing to do on the evenings. The food and atmosphere is really nice and it always seems to be busy”.


“On Sundays I end the week with a visit to the Life Church on Sycamore Avenue; I’ve found it a great way to meet people and there’s a real sense of community. As well as the weekly Sunday service, there’s all sorts of programmes and events taking place throughout the year.”

Who would have guessed 20-odd years ago (long before UCLan Burnley) that students from across the country and globe would be fully immersed in Burnley and our community.

It’s certainly pleasing to see Agneta and her friends enjoying their time in our little corner of Lancashire. We hope they can go home and spread the good word to friends and family.

We’d love to see your pics of student life in Burnley – get tagging us in your socials, using the hashtag #studyinburnley


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For 50 years Burnley Youth Theatre (BYT) has been at the heart of our community, providing access to the arts for thousands of young people. While the charity has grown immeasurably over this time one thing that has remained constant is the positive impact that it has on the young people who pass through its doors. To celebrate this impressive milestone, we take a look at what has made BYT such a pillar of our community.


“We were the first youth theatre in Europe to have a purpose-built theatre,” Karen Metcalfe, artistic director and chief executive at BYT tells us proudly. Quite an achievement for a group initially set up by volunteers with only two prefab, wooden buildings as a base.

“The fact we have a dedicated, professional space for our young people to rehearse and perform in gives them a real sense of pride

and an insight into how theatres are run,”

she adds.

Building the theatre

nI2005, after years of running from the prefab buildings, the current BYT building was opened, thanks to ten years of fundraising from its volunteers and patrons. The venue houses a 158 seat theatre, studio spaces, offices and a welcoming foyer space for meetings and events. As Karen mentioned this was the first purpose-built youth theatre in Europe, a fantastic accolade for the organisation and our town.

The theatre was further developed when in 2013, the original Quarry Theatre was demolished, and the Moira Preston building was built, named after a dedicated and long-standing volunteer. The organisation now runs 20 creative workshops a week from the two buildings, catering for ages 0 to 18 as well as hiring the space out for a range of events and activities.

For many young people attending the sessions is all about having fun and making friends but for those interested

in developing their skills further the theatre has lots of opportunities. First Byte, for ages 14 to 18, gives young people the opportunity to perform as a company with an annual trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which they fundraise for throughout the year. It also has Byte Back, an in-house theatre company, for ages 18 to 25. This group performs around the country, touring to schools, theatres and community centres. As well as catering for young people the weekly Adult Connect sessions provide a welcoming space for adults with disabilities or learning difficulties to work together, develop confidence and make friends through creative activities.

A dramatic setback

With a busy programme underway BYT was thriving, however in 2018 a burst water pipe caused extensive damage to the main building leaving it closed for a whole year. In true theatre style the charity adopted a ‘the show must go on’ attitude and ran all its workshops from the smaller Moira Preston building.

Despite the disruption this caused, the flood gave the charity the opportunity to redevelop the main building, including creating a brand new foyer space and freshly decorated rooms throughout the building. After lots of hard work the building was reopened in 2019 by Burnley born actor Sir Ian McKellen.

“Sir Ian was extremely supportive and as well as officially opening our building he performed at the Burnley Mechanics and donated the ticket sales to BYT, raising £20,000, which was amazing. Having an actor of his calibre show their support was so inspiring for our young people and was something that we will never forget,” says Karen.

Having not long re-opened the building, BYT then faced the challenge of Covid, meaning the doors were shut once again and they were forced to run online sessions:

“That was a really challenging time and we are still trying to rebuild our audiences,” Karen explains.

Looking to the future

In 2022 the charity received a grant of £142,638 from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme. It has used the money to upgrade the theatre’s existing facilities including installing an upgraded lighting rig in the theatre, installing gender neutral toilets, building an outdoor classroom in its impressive grounds and finally creating a sensory space for the early years and disability work.


Now in its 50th year the theatre has been running a whole host of events to mark this special milestone. Led by Matt Baker, programme engagement manager, the Reflections and Revelations: Our People, Our Place and Our Future project's aim was to capture the organisation’s extraordinary history as well as looking to the future.

Events so far have included family fun days, drag bingo with BYT alumni Ollie Daley aka Diana DoGood, and performances of 73 Stories, a unique show which saw two casts devise their own productions inspired by the past 50 years of BYT. The celebrations will culminate with a glamorous charity ball and time capsule burial.

Matt has also been working with the group’s young archivists on developing the theatre’s outdoor space which has been named Storyteller’s Wood. There is now an outdoor teaching area called ‘The Den’ to hold workshops and performances in and a woodland trail full of willow characters from wellknown stories that BYT has staged over the last 50 years. The willow sculptures were created by artist Sarah Gallager Hayes with the help of pupils from Cliviger Primary School, Cherry Fold Community Primary School, Heasandford Primary School, Barden Primary School and Wellfield School.

Live theatre on our doorstep

While people may think they need to travel to a city to see a theatre production, this isn’t the case as BYT has a year-long schedule of performances. As well as its own productions it also brings in national and international theatre companies to perform, giving local people the chance to watch live theatre at a reasonable price.

“After a difficult time for the theatre industry it’s great to see people back in our theatre. Our young people work so hard on the productions, and they really enjoy showcasing their talents,” says Karen.

Each year the youth theatre puts on a big Christmas production, with young people given time off school to perform to schools and public audiences. In December 2023 the cast will be transporting the audience to Neverland for performances of Peter Pan.

“We always get fantastic feedback about our productions. Often people don’t know what to expect from a youth theatre but they are blown away by the talent we have here.”

Making theatre accessible is at the heart of BYT’s ethos, as part of its outreach programme the charity works with under-served communities, helping to tackle important issues through theatre and the arts. It also partners with other local organisations such as New Neighbours Together, Participation Works and Building Bridges to ensure that it reaches as wide a section of the community as possible.

“We want theatre to be accessible to everyone so we will put on transport, arrange walking buses or provide free tickets to shows. The main thing is that we want people to feel that this is a safe space,” Karen explains.

The drama starts at the end

“We use the saying ‘the drama starts at the end’, because we hope that the message the audiences take away will resonate with them and prompt discussions beyond the length of the play,” explains Matt.

“We don’t shy away from hard hitting topics whether that’s climate change or toxic masculinity. Our aim is to get people thinking,” he adds.

For BYT the work they do is not solely about what goes on within the theatre but the skills that young people gain that they can take with them to adulthood:

“Our programmes offer much more than drama skills; young people build their confidence, develop a positive work ethic and learn how to work in a team,” says Karen.

Issac Brierley, 15, participant and volunteer agrees:

“Attending Burnley Youth Theatre has changed my life. When I first joined I didn’t know who I was and BYT has helped me to explore my identity and love for theatre. It has also introduced me to new, fun people who have turned into some of my best friends.”

BYT certainly has a lasting impact on young people’s lives with many coming back to work there as adults. Rachael Perkin, who has recently moved back from New Zealand explains how she has found herself back at BYT:

“At ten years old I auditioned in the old building for BYT’s production of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I was easily one of the youngest in the cast and I was terrified when I came to the first session, but I was so welcomed by everyone and BYT soon became a big part of my life. I performed in the Christmas show annually, travelled to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with their Byteback company, and eventually began working for them running workshops.

“At 22 I moved to New Zealand where I lived for seven years and have recently returned to the UK with my partner. Now, attending university and exploring a career change to the arts, it felt completely natural to reach out to BYT who have always been there to offer advice and support.

They welcomed me in like no time at all had passed, because BYT is first and foremost a community, and one I feel very fortunate to be a part of.”

It’s fantastic to see such a thriving theatre at the heart of our community and we can’t wait to see what the next 50 years have in store.


JoyWilkinson thetheatrealumniwhohas writtenherwaytosuccess


Amongst the young people to have passed through the doors of Burnley Youth Theatre (BYT), many have gone on to have successful careers in the arts. Joy Wilkinson is no exception, having forged a successful career writing for film, TV, theatre, radio drama and occasionally prose fiction. We caught up with Joy, who is currently in the process of producing and directing her first feature film, to find out more about her time with BYT in the late eighties and early nineties.

Could you tell us a little about your experience at BYT?

JW: I joined for The Hobbit when I was 12 and did my last show Dracula age 18. It doesn’t sound that long, but those years are hugely formative. I practically lived at BYT in my teens, going to workshops or rehearsals almost every night and weekend. We even went on tour, taking shows to drama festivals and to the National Theatre when a play I was in won a contest. I loved doing the shows, but really it was being part of a creative community that was the best thing. It felt like I’d found my tribe and could be myself, even if we were all playing other characters most of the time.

You've gone on to have an extremely varied and successful writing career – did your time at BYT play a part in you following this path?

JW: Theatre can be really divided, into new writing, musicals, Shakespeare and so on, but BYT wasn’t like that. It was really open and there was never any sense that we were doing ‘kids’ theatre’. We did a huge range of work, some really challenging, and we were trusted to run with it. This opened up new worlds for me and was an empowering way to learn about creativity – that there are endless possibilities and no one right way. It’s also given me a love of collaboration.

Was there anyone in particular at BYT who influenced you?

JW: The directors - mainly Anthony Preston and Nick Maynard in my time - were never dictatorial; there was always a sense of a group making things together, which is a brilliant way to work.

This year the youth theatre turns 50 years old, why do you think it remains such an important part of the community?

JW: A lot of it is down to the immense passion and commitment of the people behind it, from the founders 50 years ago to the team running it today and everyone who’s played a part, whether onstage, backstage, front of house or in the audience. It truly is an ensemble effort, which creates a special feeling about the place. I also think the ages it caters for means it can have a profound and positive effect on young people, giving them a place to belong and explore their identity right when they need it.

We love that you have used your northern roots in your writing, such as the episode of Dr Who based on the Pendle Witches - is this something that is important to you?

JW: Absolutely! I feel lucky to come from a town with such a strong identity, history and attitude – sense of humour especially. The landscape is incredible and I still have the best nights out down Burnley. It all inspires me and infuses what I’m working on, even if it’s sometimes set in other times and places.

Can you tell us a little about your debut feature film 7 Keys - how is production going and when can we expect to see it?

JW: It’s a thriller set in London, about a guy who’s kept the keys to all the places he’s ever lived and a girl who wants to use them, on a wild weekend getting to know each other in other people’s homes. It’s dark and sexy with some cool twists and the two leads Emma McDonald and Billy Postlethwaite are fantastic. We shot it in January and are in post-production right now, so it should make its way out into the world later this year (2023).

Paul Abbott is another successful writer from the area, did his success inspire you?

JW: Paul Abbott wrote the second play I was in at BYT. It was called Male Model and I played the tiny role of Mrs Bunny Rabbit, who was hilariously trapped by her gender stereotyping. It was ahead of its time, very funny, and we were all on a high getting to be in such a brilliant play. I never met Paul, but I believe he came to see the show and it was cool to know that a writer from Burnley had gone on to do great things.

As someone who has also gone on to have great success yourself what advice would you give to young people wanting to follow a similar path?

JW: Whether your work is successful is often out of your control in this kind of career, so the important thing is to do what you love and hang onto that love of the thing itself, because that’s what will keep you going regardless of whether it succeeds or fails. I fail a lot, but as long as I’m learning something, then it feels like I’m moving forward.

Your peers are really important too – you can get hung up on winning approval from people ‘above’ you, but it’s really the people around you who will be on your team, so find the ones who really get you and help each other then you’ll all rise together - and be there for each other if you’re sinking!

Keep up to date with Joy’s work at www.joywilkinson.net



Looking after your body and mind can be challenging, but at Burnley Leisure and Culture (BLC) we are committed to helping every single person who joins us to achieve their goals of better health and wellbeing – both physical and mental.

There is no better substitute to feeling better in yourself than being active and moving about more, and we have the facilities, the services, and the people to support you, regardless of your age, ability, disability, fitness levels, or health condition.

It’s not just about leisure centres, gyms, classes, and swimming, you could benefit from getting out on the golf course, the driving range, enjoying a good night out at Burnley Mechanics Theatre, relishing a lovely lunch at one of our hospitality venues, or joining in our community exercise network. You see, we think better health and wellbeing is made up of many things.

Another compelling reason to put your health and wellbeing in our capable hands is that as a not-for-profit organisation, every penny of our surplus revenue is re-invested in our facilities and services, such as the £750,000-plus we are spending on refurbishing our gyms and swimming pool changing areas this year.


Swimming is a vital life skill, and it’s not just good for fitness, it could be a lifesaver one day. We’re incredibly proud to say our Swim Academy welcomes 4,200 children every year.

Our gyms cater for everybody, from heavy lifters to the users of our Feelgood Gym, which features power-assisted exercise equipment and a less challenging environment than a conventional gym, to aid those less mobile, while providing an excellent source of rehab exercises.

Our leisure centres host more than 100 classes every week, ranging from high intensity workouts to Pilates and yoga sessions, to improve core strength and flexibility.

If getting outdoors is more your thing, our 18hole golf course at Towneley Park is ideal for combining fresh air and exercise, and we also have our driving range at Prairie Sports Village.

Our range of cost-effective memberships cover every aspect of our activities and come with excellent benefits that include a range of discounts on things to do, theatre shows, and food and drinks at our hospitality venues.


We are very much a community-focused organisation too. We host exercise referral sessions that include 12-week healthy weight programmes, for anyone aged over 18 with an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).

Our community outreach programmes, such as our mobile kitchen, provide Fun With Food workshops to help promote healthy eating and the enjoyment of cooking together as a family.

And the latest addition to our community support programme is our Down Town Kitchen & Café and cookery school in the heart of the town centre, in partnership with Burnley Together.

That’s not all. Our work in every one of the borough’s 32 primary schools touches the lives of over 4,000 pupils.

It’s fair to say, if you join us today, you’ll not only be doing yourself a big favour, but boosting your community too. We can’t wait to welcome you!
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MEMBERSHIPS TO BOOST YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING INCLUDING A WHOLE HOST OF BENEFITS! Discounts on golf, theatre tickets, swimming lessons, hospitality, and more Free monthly personal training or support sessions and body analysis technology * Acts of kindness in centres and friendly, motivational support FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF BEING A BURNLEY LEISURE & CULTURE MEMBER Scan the QR code below or visit blcgroup.co.uk blcgroup.co.uk Tel: 01282 664444 blcgroup.co.uk Tel: 01282 664444 *T&Cs apply


W“I think because Iʼm an artist, my attitude to ʻbusiness as normalʼ is to be disruptive.”

hen artist Jai Redman wandered into the fabled Red Triangle Café, looking for hanging space for his paintings, he couldn’t have known that within weeks he would be running the place, or that, a decade later, he’d be re-opening the venue as a cornerstone of Burnley’s new cultural quarter.

Paul Barlow met with Jai at the newly refurbished 160 St James’s Street. No longer a café, this once tired-looking building now looks very much like a swanky art gallery that might be more at home in a large city like Manchester.

What is The Salon?

“We’re sat in a space that looks, today, very much like a white cube gallery. But that’s just because we have this show on that requires that backdrop. But I don’t see this space as a traditional contemporary art gallery. It’s more experimental.

“There’s no point trying to sell art on the street, certainly not contemporary art. We’re not here to make money. It’s more about selling ideas and giving, particularly young people in this town, an opportunity to experience the sorts of arts offer that they might find in the city. For them to feel able to get involved, and maybe show their own work.

“When it comes down to how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves, a salon deals with one level of how we appear to others and art spaces deal with the rest of it, what’s going on underneath those masks and what’s going on in our heads,” explains Jai.

What can we see at The Salon?

“At the moment, this is a show about the Red Triangle and about the history of those who changed history, through the eyes of Fiona who worked here for 15 years. She was born in Burnley and raised her two kids in this town. Fiona has been involved in the arts for a long time through lots of different media and lots of different guises. She can look at the arts through lots of different prisms, so what she presents is quite a rounded view of the street through lots of different media.

“I think one of the roles of the Salon is to support local artists, who have something to say, not necessarily just because they’re local, but because what they have to say is really high quality and really interesting and provocative.

“We’re showing two recent exhibitions of Gavin Parry’s work back-to-back. The first one is of photographs that he took in India, of shopfronts and photography studios. It is outward looking work that is bringing

somewhere else into Burnley, onto the high street.”

There will be a more traditional exhibitions and paintings by contemporary visual artists from across Lancashire. The Salon will be working with the Chapel in Ormskirk, which is also a Heritage Action Zone project, to bring together contemporary painters from the region.

Long term, The Salon aims to build a community, support existing art practices, and give people a wide range of opportunities to see stuff high quality work.

“Itʼs a professional-quality show with an artist who is recognised as heading that field. And weʼre bringing it into this little shop in Burnley... and why not?”

A conversation space

Jai continued: “We now have a space where people will want to come and use it for meetings and for discussions and conversations. We’ve had people like author Elliott Flanagan coming back from being really successful and traveling all over Europe. I think that what he said during his talk is very important, which is that artists have a duty to come back to Burnley and to download their experiences and give emerging artists a taste of what it’s like to be an artist out there in the real world.”

A short history of the Red Triangle

The building that now houses The Salon has a long history in the heart of Burnley’s retail story. It has been a music store, a shoe repair shop, a rain mac emporium, and a kebab shop.

“In the 1980s Andy and Maggie bought it, their background was as caterers in youth hostels, and so they brought that vibe to the community café, and they also brought their politics with them. The space was always a safe haven for alternative types. It focused around food and drink and music and politics. Which is where new ideas come forward and new relationships are born, and that’s the role of this space had for 30 years.”


By the time Jai arrived on the scene, the Red Triangle had a strong community, but little in the way of funds for repairs.

“I moved to Burnley ten years ago and I happened to be looking for somewhere to exhibit work as an artist. There wasn’t really anywhere in the town and someone suggested that I ask at the Red Triangle. It turned out that they were closing up for good that very week. You could call it serendipitous that I came through the door when I did. If I came through the door a week later, it would never have happened. Andy and Maggie just gave me the keys and said I could do what I wanted with it, as long as it was a restaurant and it was vegetarian.”

One Sixty

Jai ran the One Sixty café for five years. It was a successful venture and a popular venue, but Jai contends, “it was never what I really wanted to do. When the covid pandemic hit and closed us, it gave us an opportunity to think again. I decided that I didn’t want to work in a kitchen anymore.

“Then around 2020, an opportunity arose to apply for funding to help regenerate the street, and as an existing tenant, I shared my ideas which were I thought the town had potential to have some kind of cultural quarter - a sort of alternative district in this street.”

The Salon

Partially funded by Historic England, The Salon is the result of a high-quality refurbishment, that’s been done to the highest conservation standards. Without major investment, “the building was going to just crumble into the river”, explains Jai.

The Salon is one of a number of shops on St James’s Street with a similar architectural look, so the excellent work done there will become a template for neighbouring properties.

With the exterior work complete, Jai is now looking to the future: ”This building is not going anywhere for probably the lifetime of anyone living in this town. That secures, forever effectively, a free, independent, art space for the community. And that’s unique... you don’t have to go to Manchester or Leeds to see interesting contemporary artwork in a gallery context, or to sit down with other people who are also interested in that work and have a conversation.

“I’m not interested in the short-term improvements. I’m interested in the long tail of development. Someone’s going to come in here who is still at school, who is interested in art; they are going to have a five-minute experience that they’ll take away and it will change their life direction and they won’t even know it until 30 years’ time! They’ll come back to this town and we’ll still be here.”

“To allow our building heritage to fall into ruins is a crime... one of the things that attracted me to this town was its architectural beauty.”

Weʼve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a cultural quarter in Burnley.

A cultural hub

Jai envisions The Salon as the first staging post of a much bigger project which is about to unfold across the street: “We have a much larger space, further up the street, with plans to open at the end of the year and that really will be the central focus for cultural activity on the street,” Jai tells me.

Like The Salon, this new venture will hire out studio space for artists and creators. At the same time work is ongoing to resurrect the Empire Theatre, a “cultural beacon” for the town. Eventually The Salon will become the smallest part of Burnley’s cultural quarter, or as Jai sees it, “this will be where people come who are on the fringe of the fringe rather than the main focus of it”.

Jaiʼs art

So, ten years have passed since Jai tried to find hanging space for his art in this building, with all that he is doing now, does he have time to create?

“As an artist, my practice is about trying to generate space for other people to work. So this building is my art. Possibly I’ll find time to paint again, and I’ll have a studio upstairs. But yeah, at the moment The Salon is a full-time job - this is the work.”

Find out more about The Salon at www.facebook.com/CreativeSpacesBurnley


High end on the HIGH ST R EE T

Via Roma is a designer fashion store on Lower St Jamesʼs Street, Burnley, and is truly a hidden gem of the town centre.

Luke Pollard spoke to the owner Fraser Carey about his vision for Via Roma and how they’re pioneering high-end men’s fashion in the area.

“I moved here around nine years ago from London, because my dad is from the area, hence the London accent. The shop was already an existing store called Clarkey’s, which was owned by a family friend, but he was looking to move on as he’d been in retail fashion for quite a few years.

“When I stepped in it was aimed mostly towards football lads with just two or three labels in a small shop.


So, I added more fashionable labels, six or seven initially, instead of just your core football labels like Stone Island and C.P Company.

“I then got locals’ perspectives on those brands and aimed for brands that you’d normally have to travel to places like the Trafford Centre for so they wouldn’t have to travel out of town.”

After 18 months, Fraser outgrew the first shop and moved into their current premises at 144-148 St James's Street.

This section of St James’s Street is appropriately being developed into an arts district, with the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Heritage Action Zone’. This makes it the perfect fit for a store focussed on stylish designer fashion.

“We felt like our branding, our labels, especially with the Italian touch to our brand, fit in with the street and we look forward to seeing the area progress and evolve.”

Fraser actually lived in Tuscany, Italy, a wellknown global centre for fashion brands, for eight years and still goes over frequently. So, when it comes to fashion brand knowledge, he is definitely the man to come to.

Who does the store cater for?

“We try and provide a luxury feel to Burnley so that people don’t have to travel out to big cities and can shop locally at a reputable independent.

“I’d say that the branding we have here is a real mix. We attend to everyone from young lads starting to buy their first bit of gear, to the 50 or 60-year-old gentleman wanting the classic brands like Hugo Boss and Paul & Shark.

“We’ve also got future aspirations - we were out in Italy recently visiting the Pitti Uomo fashion show. This is an international fashion show where brands showcase to shops and buyers to bring in new labels.

“We’re constantly doing market research, constantly looking for new labels as we want to bring something to Burnley that you can’t find anywhere else.”

"We offer that tailored service where you can come in, grab a coffee, have a chat, ʻwhat are you doing at the weekend"

A loyal customer base

Via Roma has a hugely loyal customer base that comes from all over East Lancashire. People come from all the surrounding towns such as Rawtenstall, Clitheroe and Bacup. And you can understand why when you visit the storeFraser and the staff go above and beyond when it comes to the service and the shop is kept to an impeccable standard.

“We’ve been doing this for quite a few years now so word-of-mouth gets around, we’ve got that tailored service that is often valued by customers.”

Via Roma can almost be likened to a barber shop in that staff get to know you on a first-name-basis where it feels like you’re buying off a close friend.

“We offer that tailored service where you can come in, grab a coffee, have a chat, ‘what are you doing at the weekend?’, ‘how’s the mrs?’, that kind of thing. This kind of service is what a lot of the main retailers seem to forget.”

With Fraser originally from London, it was interesting to hear his perspectives of Burnley.

“Burnley is massively overlooked. The people that we deal with are such great characters. It was a bit weird moving from London and witnessing first-hand how down-to-earth everyone

was. People act like they know you when you’ve never even met them!”

With Fraser’s expertise on men’s designer fashion, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask for his opinion on current styles and what he’d choose out of the extensive list of labels Via Roma offers.

“I tend to love cleaner products where there’s not huge branding printed everywhere. Although, don’t get me wrong, we do have a lot of those products in the store.

“I also love sticking to quality denim. We stock Tramarossa jeans which is what I’m wearing now and are advertised as the best jeans in the world. They’re a company in Venice and have been going since 1967 so we’re really proud to have them in stock.

“I’m also wearing a pair of Valentino’s; a Lanvin tee, which is a brand from Paris and Bulletto, a UK brand; but to be honest, I wear absolutely everything that’s here, everything we stock I would wear.”

Via Roma’s offering is perfect for anyone interested in high-end designer wear and would make an ideal gift for a loved one. But, unlike the bigger highstreet brands, Fraser and the team give you the tailored, friendly service that makes you want to return again and again.



We know we’re hardcore in Burnley but running barefoot in the snow!? That’s exactly what Burnley resident and artist Foysol Alkaatib did to raise money for charity. But his story doesn’t start or finish there.

We came away from this interview completely inspired that not only do we have a renowned artist living in our town who creates pieces for some of the biggest stars on the planet, but he’s also raised an impressive £1.5 million for charity in the space of just two years.

Foysol attended the then Barden High School, before going on to Burnley College Sixth Form, where he studied chemistry, physics, and maths. Despite choosing these subjects, Foysol’s heart was always with art. Travelling around the Middle East provided Foysol with an interest in Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy and it went from there.

“I decided to just go for it, so set up my art business, Alkaatib, as soon as I left sixth form. It was the best decision I could have ever made. I now have clients in 35 countries, and I make bespoke pieces for people like [boxer] Amir Khan and [footballers] Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané.

“The Hilton Hotel has recently placed an order with me and I’m really grateful to do my passion of art as my job. It’s afforded me the financial freedom to raise money for charity and travel around the world giving out aid.”

£1.5m and counting

So, how did Foysol start fundraising and why?

“I have around one million followers combined across my various social media platforms (@Alkaatib) and I thought to myself there must be a way I can utilise this following to do good. Initially, I’d heard about a bread factory in Yemen that needed help to feed those going hungry due to the emergency there. In one day alone, we raised £25,000. That’s where it took off,” Foysol told us.

He then set himself the challenge of running 5k every day for five months, come rain or shine.

“I ran barefoot in the snow at one point as I’d seen how people fleeing their homes were walking huge distances often barefoot over all terrains and in all weathers. Me doing that caught a lot of attention online and in the end that challenge raised £250,000. I was broken by the end of it, I had to have ice baths every day and my feet were ruined,” he explained.


Foysol came across a Muslim charity called the Global Relief Trust, and after doing his research to check they aligned with his values and goals, he decided to volunteer with them to deliver aid where needed. His first trip was to refugee camps in Lebanon, but Foysol says wherever there is an emergency, he will go.

In fact, we were lucky to pin him down for our interview, as he’d just come back from Turkey, where he built tents and gave out food. He was heading back a few days after our call, before giving out aid in Lebanon, Pakistan and Kashmir.

It was this selflessness that caught the attention of the Burnley community and at the inaugural Above and Beyond Awards at the beginning of March, Foysol was awarded the Fundraiser of the Year Award. In fact, Foysol couldn’t collect it as he was in Turkey giving out earthquake aid, which truly embodies why he was the worthy winner.

So, whatʼs next?

Clearly Foysol isn’t going to stop his fundraising and aid visits any time soon, although he might avoid running for donations in the near future! (“I’m never running 5k ever again!”)

But what does he have up his sleeve next?

“For the last two years, it’s been full on with fundraising, but I think after these next aid trips I need to take some time to get back to doing some art – I have quite a few orders I actually need to fulfil! I would also like to work with schools teaching Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy. St Peter’s have invited me to do a workshop, which I’m going to do when I’m back, and I’d love to support more schools in Burnley in this way.

“In the past, I’ve been paid to hold workshops in Australia, the USA and Barbados, which has been incredible, but I’d like to recreate this locally too. It’s why winning the Above and Beyond Award meant so much. It was a total surprise, and it means so much more being recognised locally than it does in other countries,” he added.

We truly hope schools in Burnley take up Foysol on his offer and we wish him all the best with his growing business and fundraising efforts and for making the time to speak to us in between his aid visits.

You can follow Foysol on instagram.com.com/alkaatib

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to Burnley From Syria Lebanon to

How one hard-working refugee has created a successful food business

AsI sit down with Ousama Abdallahotherwise known as Mister Falafel - in Burnley Market, he hands me a Turkish tea in a beautiful ornate cup and apologies that his English is broken. I beg to differ; Ousama’s English is extremely good and considering I can’t speak any other language than English, I would absolutely not judge anyone else’s efforts to speak a language that isn’t their first.

The Mediterranean food business inside Burnley Market has proven popular since it opened, including with myself and my colleagues, with its hearty falafel wraps a particular favourite. The counter is adorned with mouth-watering baklava and intricate tea sets and the menu vast and very affordable.

What I didn’t realise was the story of Ousama and how he came to open a business in Burnley. It’s a tale he tells me as I sip on the sweet tea.

“I’m from Syria and as everyone knows, war started in my country in 2011. After three years, I decided it just wasn’t a safe country to be in anymore, and so my wife Nermen and I moved to Lebanon. We stayed there for five or six years, but unfortunately unrest began. I was earning good money in Lebanon as a decorator and my

wife was pregnant with our first child, so we tried to make the most of the situation and hoped it would pass.

“However, one day, a missile landed on our roof and I’d had enough, I needed to protect my wife and unborn child. We twice moved to different cities, but there would always be fighting between the government and the people. One day, there was a huge car bomb. At the time, our baby boy was two months old. My wife really wanted us to make it work in Lebanon. We unfortunately also faced hostility from some of the Lebanese people, who questioned why we were in their country. Then when our child was old enough to start school, we were told we would have to pay for him to go to private school because we weren’t from their country,” Ousama explains.

Ousama says he couldn’t sleep or properly eat through fear that his family would get caught in the crossfire.

“I eventually contacted The United Nations and said please help my family move to somewhere safe. They asked me if I needed help and money and I told them I didn’t want money, I was earning good money in my job, I wanted my family to be safe. I told them I would move to any country where it was safe and they told me I could move to the UK to a town called Burnley,” he says.



I ask if he’d ever heard of Burnley before moving here in 2017 and the answer surprises me!

“Yes I’d heard of Burnley as I’m a big football fan so I’d watch their matches and other English football games. I’m crazy about football, I really like watching Chelsea and Arsenal too, I’d watch the Spanish league every weekend. I didn’t know where Burnley was, but I knew about the club.”

Ousama admits that he found the transition to the UK difficult because since he was a teenager he has always worked. After two months, he approached Burnley Council and asked them to give him a job. Whilst supportive, they explained he would need to attend English classes at Burnley College to stand him the best chance to find paid work. Ousama attended two-hour classes three times a week, but it wasn’t enough to keep him occupied.

“I’d wake up, I’d have a coffee, I’d attend my classes on the days they were, but then I had nothing to do and this doesn’t suit me. So, I went back to the council and they said I could help paint the benches in Thompson Park, using my decorating skills. I also volunteered at the Burnley FC in the Community kitchen and foodbank to make sure I spent my time wisely,” Ousama continues. He was advised it could take up to two years for paid work and to be patient with the process.

“Two years! I was restless and ready for work straight away, so I asked again after six months!”.

It is clear he is a hard worker and wants the best for his family, but also to be a part of the community in which they live. It was a visit to Burnley Market with his wife that sparked his business idea.

“My wife and I really like Wok This Way, we’d sometimes get food from there and I noticed how busy it was and how popular the food stalls are. I told my wife that we could offer a different culture and cuisine, so I spoke to the team at Burnley Markets. They were supportive and interested in my business idea, but I had no money and I still wasn’t confident with my English. So, I put the idea to the back of my mind, but every two months we’d come back in for food and I’d check if the market was still busy,” Ousama explains.

At this point, a gentleman walks over - it’s Ousama’s case worker from Calico, who has helped the family settle into Burnley, secure services such as a doctors and school places and make sure they receive support with any administrative tasks that need completing. It’s clear they have a warm relationship and it’s fantastic to see the coordinated effort between various partners to ensure the family have the best start to life in the UK.


Ousama wasn’t put off and spoke to Burnley Markets two more times to see if a stall was available. He would also go to the job centre outside of his appointment times to try and secure work. His fellow Syrian refugees weren’t sure about his business idea and tried to dissuade him.

“They told me I was mad and that people wouldn’t like falafel but I always think how do you know if you like something unless you try it?”

In order to get his plan off the ground, Ousama teamed up with a friend, and whilst they knew it would be hard work to build up the business from nothing, they decided to give it a go. His friend has since left the business, but Ousama isn’t afraid of the challenge of going solo.

“I feel happy, I feel strong – I have my own business. I love work and when I wasn’t working I felt ill. It’s small, but I’m happy with that, I have wonderful reviews from my customers. It’s slowly slowly growing and I’ve learnt from English people that you need to be patient!”

As we have our conversation, there’s still a steady stream of customers even at 3pm. They look round and wave at Ousama whilst his staff provide a helping hand during our interview.

How has Ousama and his family been welcomed to Burnley? The couple have three children; Islam (who was born in Syria), 11, Haifa (who was born in Lebanon), 9, and Adam (who was born at Burnley Hospital), 4.

I’m delighted to hear that everyone has been warm and friendly.

“When you respect yourself, people will respect you. For me, my life is work and family and everyone has been nice to me. I have many English friends, for some time I worked at Crow Wood. I recently went to Liverpool for three days with a friend and I told him I’d had enough and I wanted to come back to Burnley!” Ousama tells me.

He adds: “I know where everything is here, I walk round the market and people say hi. I feel safe. My children can go outside to play, I know all my neighbours. We like Towneley and Thompson Parks, Burnley is beautiful and I like hearing suggestions about new places to go. Once a month we go to Wilmslow Road in Manchester as there are lots of Syrian and Turkish places there and we like to get Syrian desserts. We still love Wok This Way – we bring our Syrian friends!”

Ousama also likes Little Barista, with co-owner Ali Ansel originally from Turkey but now living in Burnley with his business partner and wife Andrea. Likewise, Andrea is a regular customer at Mister Falafel.



Before we wrap up our interview, Ousama says he wants to thank Burnley FC and Burnley FC in the Community for being so welcoming to refugees. Every Friday, the charity takes a group from Turf Moor to The Leisure Box to play football and to socialise – “I’m so glad they’re back in the Premier League.”

Ousama is referring to Clarets Welcome, a friendly, welcoming football session that is free and open to any males over the age of 16 that are new to the Burnley and East Lancashire area. The original purpose of Clarets Welcome was to bring together young men who were displaced from Syria due to the ongoing conflict. But their doors are now open to 16+ males from all backgrounds who are new to the area.

It is clear Ousama loves his new life in Burnley and I’d highly recommend people both local and visiting to head into Burnley Market to try the different food stalls there, including, of course, Mister Falafel. The diverse food offering reflects our diverse community and it again reaffirms the warm welcome you’ll receive in Burnley.


The Market with More

Burnley Market Hall is home to some fantastic food outlets with cuisine from all over the world, but its not just a one trick pony. Nestled under the famous arched roof are over 30 independent businesses offering you something different. The traditional market has evolved from a place selling food and cheap goods to a world of bespoke businesses and services.

With so much on offer it would be impossible to include them all here, so we’ve highlighted just a few, new and old. Starting with a stalwart business that no market would be complete without; the butchers. At Burnley Market, Sharp’s Quality Butchers selling high quality meat (always with a smile) Mark Sharp is your man.

Starting a new business can be scary but at Burnley Market we help guide budding entrepreneurs while they find their feet. Adam’s foam is one such business selling foam cut to size for a myriad of different uses. Give new life to your old sofa, take glamping to the next level with campervan and caravan seating or get a great night’s sleep with a new mattress and more. ‘Is It Vegan?’ offers local ethically sourced products, from refills and snacks to toiletries, bath bombs and household goods and as the name suggests they are all vegan!

We are home to an array of thriving beauty businesses. Pop into Kuttin Room for a trim or for a transformation, turn your nails into art at JL Nails and

get your eyebrows threaded at Noors, Sham’s and Unique Hair & Beauty. With an afternoon of pampering at Burnley Market you’ll leave feeling relaxed and transformed into a whole new you.

Not content with a makeover? Ok, we can also offer you some new threads and accessories at In Stitches. Stop by C and S Clothing for the latest fashion and footwear and On Trend Bagz sells the most gorgeous bags and suitcases. And if the fit isn’t spot on pop over to All Stitches and see Mohammad, he is a highly skilled tailor offering alterations, repairs, and bespoke tailoring at prices you’ll find hard to beat.

Accidents happen, but luckily, we have two technology experts on hand to repair your mobile phone the next time you drop it. NexGen Entertainment and Mobile Care have been trusted by customers for years thanks to their speedy service and cheerful customer service. Speaking of repairs, our resident horologist at Time Piece Electricals attracts customers from miles around. With years of experience and attention to detail their trusted services always ensure customers leave with a smile. No job is too small, from replacing the battery in a retro Casio to repairing and cleaning a Rolex. If it ticks, they can fix it!

We have lots more on offer, so why not pop in and have a wander – you can always see the full listing of our businesses on the website www.burnleymarkets.co.uk

Itʼs Your Town . Itʼs Your Market. Shop Local ADVERTORIAL 41













the history of filmmaking in Burnley

sAa huge film lover, around six years ago, I made the decision to retrain in filmmaking. One day, I began to wonder whether there were any like-minded film enthusiasts in my hometown of Burnley. A quick internet search revealed that there was indeed a group called the Burnley Filmmakers, who met up every week to share their love of making films of all kinds. I went along to my first meeting in October 2019 and after a very warm welcome, I decided to become an official member. I had no idea that that this friendly little filmmaking club has been in existence for over 90 years and its members have been present with their cameras at many of our borough’s defining moments in history. From royal visits and formal civic occasions to town fairs and duck races, whatever the event, if it has happened in Burnley, the chances are it has been captured for posterity by the many members who have passed through the club’s doors over the years.


In the 1930s, many filmmaking clubs began to spring up across the UK due to the increased availability and affordability of portable filming equipment. Burnley Filmmakers began life as the Burnley and District Amateur Cine Society and held their first meeting in the Mechanics Institute in 1931. The club has gone by several different names since then, but the purpose has always remained the same – to provide a space for local amateur (and even the odd professional) filmmakers to show their films, share their knowledge with others, and make lasting friendships. This last point is so important because as life becomes more and more digital (film being no exception), clubs like Burnley Filmmakers are still there to provide a physical community for people of all ages, whether that’s at their weekly meetings or the public film shows that they provide, such as their annual Newsreel event and a recent visit they made to Pendleside Hospice to screen some old films of Burnley. The club is now one of the longest running in the country - a fantastic achievement that was recently celebrated at an exhibition at Towneley Hall and an open day at Burnley Central Library.

Sam Hanna

One notable amateur filmmaker from Burnley is Sam Hanna, who was born in 1903 and began making films in the 1930s right through to the 1980s. His contribution to filmmaking was recognised by the British Film Institute in 1986. Sam was a schoolteacher and often brought his films to show in the classroom. My dad was taught by Sam and remembers how his woodwork classes would be interspersed with interesting films showing local craftspeople, such as brush makers and coopers. At the time, Sam faced opposition by the education authorities to his film shows in school, which is hard to imagine today when visual aids are so commonplace in teaching. As well as being a pioneer in educational terms, Sam also developed new techniques for screening and editing films, such as the Loop Absorber and the Effects Box. As a result, he set up Brun Educational Films in Burnley and exported his films and inventions around the world. Sam’s collection of over 500 film reels is now part of the North West Film Archive and many of his films are available to watch online via their website. His films have captured and preserved decades of life in Burnley that will continue to be seen by future generations and I, for one, feel grateful to Sam and others like him.

Me filming an event at Turf Moor with long-term members of Burnley Filmmakers, Keith Widdup and Carl Stredder Members of the club filming a road safety film in Burnley in 1959 Members of the club filming a parade on Church Street in the 1960s

Burnley on the big screen

As well as being a hub for amateur filmmaking, Burnley has generated successful film and television talent and played its part as a filming location for numerous productions and TV news broadcasts. Award-winning television producer and screen writer, Paul Abbott (Shameless and Clocking Off), grew up in Burnley; acting great, Sir Ian McKellen, was born here and recently returned to share his wisdom with young local actors at Burnley Youth Theatre; and of course, the Netflix smash hit Bank of Dave has helped put Burnley on the international stage as film crews descended on the town to film here and to attend the world premiere. Broadcasting talent such as Jordan North and Tony Livesey also fly the flag for Burnley and have let the world know that the town really is the Happy Place.

All filmmakers, whether amateur or professional, like to have their work seen by an audience and Burnley has been lucky enough to have had many cinemas over the years. In 1922, the Grand super cinema on St James’s Street opened its doors. This luxurious facility accommodated 950 people, who would have queued through the doors to watch Charlie Chaplin’s latest picture. By 1929, amongst other smaller cinema screens, the Savoy theatre on Manchester Road was a popular leisure time destination for the town’s people. This cinema was designed to introduce the people of Burnley to the exciting new style of movies known as the ‘talkies’ that had first rocked the world of cinema in 1927.

When they first started out in the early 30s, Burnley and District Cine Society treated local people to screenings of their films in Burnley’s cinemas. It must have been very exciting for people to see their friends and family on the

big screen, having been captured on camera at local events, which is something that we take for granted today when almost everyone has a camera in their pocket. Nowadays, Burnley Filmmakers have a growing YouTube channel where online audiences around the world can gain some insight into life in our lovely town.

Despite the surge in ownership of televisions sets since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Burnley has continued to have a strong cinema going tradition. By 1970, Studio 1-2-3 had opened next to Burnley Market and was the popular new destination for cinemagoers to watch classics such as the Godfather, experience Jaws in 3D, and be taken on a rollercoaster adventure with Indiana Jones. In 1997, the brand new nine-screen Apollo cinema opened on Manchester Road, which later became REEL Cinema. I remember going there to see Titanic three times within the first few weeks of its release. A trip to the cinema with school friends was always a real pleasure. Now, we have the fantastic new REEL Cinema site in the heart of the town centre, which will surely play a huge part in nurturing the next generation of film lovers in Burnley.

For those who also fancy getting behind the camera and want to know where to start, I can recommend no better place than attending a Burnley Filmmakers meeting, where you will hear from guest speakers from the professional film and TV world, gain confidence, pick up tips, and make some fellow filmmaking friends. You don’t even need a camera of your own, just go along and see where your filmmaking journey will lead you. Who knows? One day, your film could be playing on the big screen right here in Burnley.

Find out more at burnleyfilmmakers.org

Award-winning TV Producer, Cat Lewis, guest speaker at Burnley Filmmakers in 2018

NIGHTS Cinderella

Have you ever been on a night out, the clock has struck 12 and youʼve somehow lost a shoe? Well, that may have been a scene from a night out many many years ago, but now Iʼm older and (maybe?) a bit wiser, it all sounds a bit too messy for my liking.

Not only do I have a very busy job as Burnley Place Brand Manager, but with two girls aged 7 and 5, there’s no time to have hangovers in my house. Throw in the fact I go to the gym at 6am, because it’s the only time I can and having two children within two years means keeping in shape seems a never-ending work in progress, and it can feel like there’s no time for a social life.

Well, now the children are older, and I think I’m doing an OK job at balancing it all, it’s time to start going out again with a small handbag and not a demand for a snack in sight. So, I went on a mission to find Cinderella nights out in Burnley. That is, chilled evenings that will get you home well before midnight and most definitely with both shoes intact (if you stick to the brief!).

I started my mission at The Corkhouse. It’s always busy when I’m driving home from work and I’m often jealous of the people sat outside with a chilled glass of wine and some lovely food, when I’m usually rushing back for my children’s dance lessons (let’s face it, they have a better social life than the grown-ups). I roped in some colleagues from the office to join me after work, which considering there was wine and tapas at stake, wasn’t too difficult of a task. Yes, we needed to sort out childcare, but come on ladies, we have to make the effort.

The Corkhouse is in prime position at the end of the picturesque cobbled Hammerton Street on Whittam

Street, and benefits from space outside for al fresco drinks. It’s beautiful inside too – the fridges and shelves full of dozens of wines and quirky interiors are certainly impressive and there’s a whole mix of customers inside – groups of colleagues like us, couples, friends and even a very cute dog (we have the photographic evidence).

We went on a Wednesday, where you can order three plates of tapas and a bottle of wine for £25. As a group, we tucked into some delicious dishes including chorizo in a sauce that was just made for dipping into with bread, huge stuffed mushrooms and juicy king prawns. The place was full when we went on a rainy Wednesday, so it’s clearly very popular. If you manage to sneak out on a Thursday, you can enjoy a lighter portion of pasta, two gin cocktails or two draft lager or cider for just £11.50.

The prices are very reasonable indeed and I’ll definitely be back to try the Thursday offer. Their main menu also sounds delicious; there are cheese and charcuterie boards and flatbreads, as well as many more tapas dishes and pizzas. I definitely have a weakness for pizza and they all sound amazing – The Calabrese with hot chorizo, light mozzarella and slow-roasted peppers is on my to-eat list. You’ll often find live music on a Sunday too, so whether you want just drinks or food too, there’s something for everyone.

It was lovely to be outside of the office together and I was home by 8pm, meaning I could still put my girls to bed. We definitely need to do this more often.


However, thereʼs plenty more Cinderella nights you can enjoy in Burnley, whatever your reason for wanting to be home by 12. I wish I could say I took this mission seriously and managed to fit them all in for this feature, but letʼs not run before we can walk. Here are my top picks; I hope you enjoy trying them all out!


~ Burnley Mechanics ~

Burnley Mechanics theatre on Manchester Road is such an asset for the town centre. I used to love watching shows in Manchester pre-children, but of course, it’s not always convenient to travel to the city centre, especially midweek. For the rest of 2023 and early 2024, there’s a wide variety of shows and entertainment, including 90s Live (the best decade for growing up in my opinion), Bingo That’s Bonkers, Manford’s Comedy Club, King of Pop, The Wizard of Oz Ballet, Maggie May- the Rod Stewart Years and Most Haunted Live (told you it was eclectic).

The 1855 Bistro and Bar within the Burnley Mechanics (both are managed by Burnley Leisure & Culture) provides pre-theatre dining two hours prior to shows. There is everything from cheese and onion pie and honey and chilli pork to pan-roasted chicken breast and pepper sauce and grilled cod fillet. Desserts include sticky pecan cheesecake – delicious. The best bit? You can just head to your seats straight afterwards. Your reservation secures your table right up to the start of the event so you can sit back and relax and even preorder interval drinks, which includes Burnley’s very own Batch gin.



~ The Loom ~

The Loom is a little bit out of the main town centre, located at Bank Parade, but it’s certainly worth the very short walk. Another venue where live music can be found, this inviting bistro runs several offers. You can enjoy any pizza and two small plates for £19.99. Pizzas include seafood, topped with smoked salmon, garlic confit, tuna and prawns, along with a Greek-inspired vegetarian option. Likewise, there are too many small dishes to list here, but include haLOOMi fries, nduja and mozzarella arancini and a trio of sourdough bruschetta. Alternatively, you can stick with just a pizza for £9.99 and two cocktails for £9.99. These offers run Fridays 4-6pm, Saturday 12-4pm and all day on Sundays. So that’s three chances you have in the week to get something in your diary!



OK, this one might be cheating a bit as it starts earlier in the day, but either way being home by midnight is the goal. Ellis’s is also on Manchester Road and is famous for its huge burgers and milkshakes that are a meal in themselves. This Burnley staple now offers bottomless brunch. I’ll *whisper* here, but I’ve still yet to do a bottomless brunch. It feels like it’s certainly a popular concept, although if I’d spent an afternoon eating and drinking, I’d definitely want to be home in my pjs at a reasonable hour! Ellis’s bottomless brunches are available before 4pm every day. For £39.95 per person, you get any burger and portion of fries, then two hours of drinks which include prosecco, pornstar martini, mimosa, pink gin and tonic and selected cocktails. Everyone at the table must have bottomless brunch, so get everyone on board and get booking. If you’ve ever been to Ellis’s, you’ll know you’ll get a lot of food on your plate.



Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, Pioneer Place is the £23 million new cinema and leisure complex just next to Primark in the town centre. At the time of writing, Icaro Lounge and Starbucks had opened, Nando's and Heavenly Desserts were almost ready and one other big name was waiting in the wings to be announced. Similarly, REEL Cinema was getting ready to move from its current location on Manchester Road to Pioneer Place after the summer holidays.

Icaro Lounge is part of the Loungers group, responsible for the popular Lounges and Cosy Club brands. Each Lounge location has its own name and Burnley’s is Icaro. Every time I’ve been in, it’s been busy. I’m a particular fan of the brunch, but the menu is HUGE and starts at breakfast and finishes with evening cocktails, closing at midnight on a Friday and Saturday and 11pm Sunday to Thursday. There is also a full PETA award-winning vegan menu, children’s menu and gluten-free

menu; you won’t get token and uninspiring glutenfree or vegan dishes here. The interior is eclectic and cosy and, just in case the kids are joining you, plenty of games and toys to keep them occupied. You can also enjoy just a coffee and cake, whether at Icaro Lounge or the very smart Starbucks next door. Starbucks is a great place to settle down with a drink and sweet treats for that very long overdue catch up. Let’s face it, half the battle is getting all your friends together, let alone choosing a venue. I’ve told you my top picks of where to go, now it’s up to you to get organising your group! Of course, once this magazine goes live, Nando’s will also be open – the place for chicken lovers. Once Heavenly Desserts and the other venue are open and REEL has made its move, Pioneer Place will be the ultimate evening venue where surely, you’ll be able to find something your group can all agree on. Whether you grab chicken or an indulgent dessert, coffee or something from Icaro, you can then nip next door to the cinema to watch the latest film.

of the
ahead of your
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*Disclaimer: offers at all
above venues may have changed since
publication, please contact them

M EET RYAN E VANS the young distiller with BIG ambitions

Hidden away in Habergham Mill, Burnley, is Batch Distillery, producers of innovative and award-winning spirits. With flavours ranging from classic combinations such as pear and blackberry to the more unusual such as Garam Masala and the pizza-inspired Italian Job, the team at Batch pride themselves in their creativity.

We were intrigued to find out who was behind such Willy Wonka-esque flavours and Katie McGee was lucky enough to receive a golden ticket to meet head distiller Ryan Evans.

I meet Ryan at Batch headquarters, and as we walk through, he proudly shows me a vast display of bottles, each with a beautifully designed, unique label. In fact, even the boxes the bottles are shipped in are adorned with unique illustrations.

“When people buy one of our products, we want them to enjoy the whole experience, so how the products are packaged is just as important to us as how they taste,” Ryan explains.

As we head into the distillery where the products are made, Ryan lights up and it’s clear that this is where his passion lies. However, despite obviously loving his job as we chat it becomes clear that being a distiller was not a career path he had planned.

A sliding doors moment

It was in fact a chance meeting with a Batch Distillery employee that set Ryan on this path, a meeting that almost didn’t happen. When he was 17 years old Ryan, who is as passionate about music as he is about his job at the distillery, was booked to play a gig at Sanctuary in Burnley with his friend. When his friend couldn’t make it at the last minute, Ryan considered pulling out.

“It was my first gig in Burnley and the thought of going on stage without my friend made me really nervous. But something in me didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity and so I forced myself to go” Ryan explains.


The Burnley Bling cocktail

Ryan shares his recipe for the perfect Burnley cocktail, which of course features the tipple synonymous with the area, Benedictine.

• 2 parts Batch signature gin

• 2 parts Benedictine

• 1 part Chambord

• 1 part fresh lime juice

• 1/2 part grenadine

• Angostura bitters

• Soda water to dilute

Put all ingredients, except the soda water, in to a cocktail mixer, shake over ice and serve in a champagne glass or as tradition would have it a dimpled half pint mug.

Top with soda and crown with frozen raspberry. Adjust the bitter/sweetness balance to taste with suitable drops of bitters.

After the gig Ryan went along to an after-party where he got chatting to another guest named Emma who was very complimentary about his music.

“I mentioned I was looking for work to help fund my passion for music and Emma told me that there was a job available at Batch, where she worked. We swapped phone numbers, but I thought no more of it.”

To Ryan’s surprise the next day the phone rang, it was Emma asking if he was still up for going in for an interview. While Ryan had worked the odd Saturday job, this was his first experience of having a proper interview, but he needn’t have worried.

“I was so nervous but as soon as I walked in everyone made me feel so comfortable. I was then invited back for a second interview with Batch’s director Phil Whitwell, was offered the job and haven’t looked back since.”

Spend just five minutes with Ryan and it’s clear to see how he impressed the interview panel. His zest for life and energy is infectious. He tells me when he started at Batch, he set himself a five year plan, something he achieved way ahead of time.

“I joined Batch as apprentice distiller at 18, studying a production, manufacturing, operations (PMO) apprenticeship with Themis at Burnley College. I then became junior distiller at 20 and was promoted to head distiller at 23. As far as I know Iʼm the youngest person in the country to have been in this role.”


A perfect pairing

Batch is a small team so it’s all hands on deck with many aspects of the business. When Ryan first started the role, he was hand labelling 400 bottles a day, before moving on to creating recipes in the distillery. Ryan tells me that from his first day at the distillery he felt at home: “Straight away I was made to feel part of the team and that everyone had faith in me. I believe it’s this level of trust that has helped me to progress so quickly.”

While he thrived with his newfound responsibility, Ryan was so keen to do well that he did worry about messing things up. When brewing his first batch Ryan sat watching the temperature on the still to make sure it didn’t overheat. “I didn’t even move to go to the toilet, I was so scared about it getting too hot and exploding!” he tells me.

As Ryan shows us around the distillery, it’s clear how proud he is of where he works: “I look forward to coming into work every day. The team has a real family feel and we do a lot of things outside of the office too.”

One of the activities the team have planned is a sky dive to raise money for the Pendleside Hospice Corporate Challenge. Ryan approaches the subject of jumping out of an aeroplane with the same level of enthusiasm he does about every subject we talk about. I doubt there’s anything that phases him!

A love of alchemy

One of the things that Ryan loves about his job is the creativity and the freedom he is given to invent new flavour combinations. He’s created around 25 so far! Each drink produced by Batch

has a back story and Ryan’s first creation when he was an apprentice was The Apprentice’s Vodka, which also happened to be Batch’s first flavoured vodka.

“The drink was really popular and ended up being stocked in Selfridges, which was a really proud moment for me and something I loved telling my family and friends,” says Ryan.

Batch is also known for its collaborations, and it was a childhood memory that inspired Ryan’s first partnership with Nelsonbased Farmhouse Biscuits.

“I always liked the idea of working on a collaboration with a local company and while thinking of who I could team up with I was inspired by a memory of walking to school with my mum. Every day we would walk past Farmhouse Biscuits and I always loved the smell of the biscuits cooking coming out of the factory.” And so, the Broken Biscuit Rum was born.

Ryan’s most recent collaboration is with Haffners Butchers. Together they have created the Cook Out Gin which contains flavours inspired by the botanicals and fruits used in Haffners products, including white pepper used in their traditional pork sausages and apple in their pork and apple pies. It also has a unique ingredient in smoked applewood, to reflect the distinctive, flame grilled flavour you get from a BBQ. The gin was included in Batch’s Innovation member’s club box in July 2023.

There’s clearly no stopping Ryan, so what drives him to be so ambitious?

“I’ve always known that I wanted to do well for myself and after joining Batch I felt really inspired by the

ambition and creativity of everyone on the team," he explains.

Ryan struggled at school as he found it hard to concentrate. “Science was the only subject I liked, in fact it’s the only GCSE I came out with,” he tells me.

This is another reason that his employment at Batch seem like fate - as head distiller Ryan is responsible for creating new flavour combinations and science plays a major part in his role. His enjoyment of the subject is coming in especially handy, as not content with being the youngest distiller - then head distiller - in the country he is now studying to be a master distiller. This is something not yet achieved by someone at such a young age. Once qualified, he will be able to make alcohol from scratch, adding yet another string to his already impressive bow.

Having surpassed his five-year plan well ahead of schedule, I wonder what the future holds for Ryan?

Ryan is currently taking part in the Burnley Bondholder Future Leaders initiative, which aims to inspire Burnley’s next generation of business leaders, a scheme he’s enjoying being a part of: “It’s a great mix of people from all different professions. I’m really enjoying getting to know everyone and learning more about what they do. I already feel like I’ve learnt a lot.”

Ryan’s ambitions don’t stop there, he also wants to move into property development. And, not afraid to get his hands dirty he has taken on a second job gutting houses to learn more about the trade. Ryan also plans to complete courses in plumbing and electrics. We really don’t know where he finds the time!


A passion for music

Ryan’s journey to Batch started with his love of music and it’s clear that this is something he continues to be passionate about as he performs at raves most weekends, across the UK. Ryan tells me he taught himself to play piano and produces his own music too. It’s at this point that I’m left wondering if there’s anything Ryan can’t turn his hand to.

“I’m not great at relaxing,” Ryan laughs. “I always have to have something on the go or I can get quite down. During the pandemic I was furloughed for three weeks but I begged Phil to let me go back in."

As we wrap up our chat, I tell Ryan that I think many young people will find his story inspirational.

“I hope so,” he replies. “Although I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be, I’d love for other people to read my story and feel like they can achieve their goals as well.”


A cut above

I’ve always been a bit of a short back and sides sort of person when it comes to haircuts.

Minimum fuss and chat, no need for talk of holidays or “what’ve you been up to?” or pumping background music to lighten the mood and fill any awkward silences. In and out in 15 minutes. Job done.

So, when I was asked to visit a selection of men’s hair stylists I thought they had me mixed up with someone who cares about their hair.

To me walking into a men’s hairdressers was a bit daunting and not my style – literally.

But now I’ve walked into the unknown, I’ve found that we’ve got a great selection of men’s barbers in our borough offering something a bit different, but all providing a great service to their customers.


A cut above

Jazz Man Grooves, Bull Street, Burnley

Jazzman Grooves Barbers, holds the distinction of being the town's oldest standing barbershop, dating back to its founding in 1989. What sets Jazzman Grooves apart is its genuine commitment to the well-being of its customers and the community. The barbers have formed a meaningful partnership with a local mental health charity called Casual Mind Matters. Owner, Baron Laird, explains that staff promote mental health awareness by wearing t-shirts adorned with the charity's logo, and having open conversations with their customers.

“If we notice a customer that seems to be struggling, we’ll offer them support and guide them towards the charity for assistance if we think they need it. We also have a mental health shelf where

customers can take home free books focused on mindfulness and self-improvement.”

In addition to the mental health support they offer, Jazzman Grooves has also forged connections with Pendleside Hospice, demonstrating their commitment to supporting local institutions. During the Burnley FC promotion parade, they generously offered free candy floss and gave people the chance to have a photograph with a replica championship trophy to raise funds for the hospice.

Jazzman’s dedication to fostering well-being and giving back to the community is a shining example of a barbershop that goes beyond grooming, creating a safe space for patrons to find comfort and support amidst life's challenges.


‘Quiet Hours ’ everydayfrom 9-10am and4-5pm





Meet Becky & Zainab S

ince the England women’s football team roared to victory in the Euro 2022 competition, the popularity of women’s football has been on the rise. While many of the audience are new to the sport, behind the scenes there are many years of hard work that have gone in to developing the women’s game

Becky Clough has been the female football development officer at Burnley FC in The Community (BFCiTC) for the last three and a half years, so has seen these changes first hand.

Through her role, Becky met Zainab, who initially believed her Muslim faith meant that she wouldn’t be allowed to play the sport she loved. She soon learnt this wasn’t the case and is now flourishing as part of the BFC Women’s Junior team, coached by Becky. We caught up with them both to find out more.

So, Becky, what does your role involve?

Becky: I look after everything female football! I help to develop and ensure we have a strong female pathway into football for girls in our local area – including everyone from beginners to elite.

What's your favourite thing about your job?

Becky: It's definitely being able to provide opportunities for girls that I didn’t have when I was a young female player. I used to play for Burnley FC Women’s Juniors Under 8s all the way through to open age football. Because I’ve been part of the Burnley pathway, I can relate to the girls in our sessions and know exactly what it is like to be in their shoes.

Have you found the perception of women’s football has changed since you started playing?

Becky: Since I was younger, there has been a huge transformation in the perception of women’s football. The success of the Lionesses in the Euros, along with increased exposure, funding, and spotlight on female football, has allowed women to thrive. When I was younger football was seen as a boys sport and girls were often judged and labelled for playing. I love that in today’s world, girls can play with freedom and pursue their passion without having to justify themselves.

Although perceptions of women’s football is changing, do you still find there are barriers to young girls taking up the sport?

Becky: One of the main barriers we aim to overcome is providing equal opportunities to girls from all backgrounds and communities. In our area, we understand that the cost of expensive gear and kits can be a hindrance, so as part of BFC Women's Juniors, we alleviate that financial burden, allowing them to focus on giving their best performance.

Another significant barrier is the need for education. We want to educate people from different cultures, breaking down misconceptions

and stereotypes surrounding sports. Football and sport in schools is often wrongly perceived as a pursuit for troubled children, but it's far from the truth. We aim to show how football can positively impact the lives of individuals.

You’ve been involved with BFC for a long time now, can you sum up what the club means to you?

Becky: For me Burnley FC is more than just a badge on my chest, it carries immense significance. It provided me with a platform to express myself as a young woman in a challenging region of the country.

Zainab, Becky talks about breaking down barriers, and initially you felt that your religion might be a barrier that would stop you from playing football. Could you tell us more about that?

Zainab: I loved football from a young age. In Norway, my cousins would play all the time and they’d let me join in, I had so much fun learning new skills from them. I always wanted to play football from a young age but I had my GCSEs and my parents wanted me to focus on that.

In my culture girls are not expected to play sports, but I researched my religion, and nowhere did it say that I couldn’t play football.

When I got into college I was too scared to join the team or speak to the coach. I felt like all the other girls were more experienced than me. But, in August 2022 I emailed the coach and told her I wanted to join the team.

Was there anything that you needed to do to stay true to your religion?

Zainab: So because of my religion I have to cover up, I have to wear skins under my kit. I went online and researched hijabs, that’s a headscarf, to wear. My hijab is a symbol of my religion and shows that I’m devoted.


How have you found the experience of joining a football team?

Zainab: I’m the only Muslim girl on my football team and so it feels different, but my teammates are supportive of me. They tell me if my hair is sticking out of my head scarf and ask me questions about my religion.

And, how has being coached by Becky helped?

Zainab: Becky helped me build my confidence as she always encourages me to practice outside of training sessions and she gave me a lot of advice in training sessions too as well as on the pitch.

Becky, how is Zainab developing as a footballer, has it been rewarding seeing her love of football grow?

Becky: Yes, it felt for a long time like Zainab was in the shadows, not knowing whether she could play and what was accessible to her. I would like to say I gave Zainab the opportunity to express herself freely, pushed her to get involved in a sport she loved and get outside

her comfort zone. She even won most improved player at our end of season awards this year.

The experience was really inspiring for both myself, Zainab and the rest of the team who have been able to gain a really good understanding of football within different cultures. Our goal now is to educate even more individuals so that more girls, like Zainab, can embrace football at an earlier age. We strive to motivate them to join us in a safe and inclusive environment.

What advice would you give to young girls who want to get into football?

Becky: Just give it a go, you have nothing to lose. BFCiTC are here to help you break down barriers, learn new skills and make friends - you'll love it!

Zainab: It’s important for me to be a good role model for my younger siblings and other Muslim girls as it’s important for them to feel that they can do anything they want to do.

Meet Joe Skinner

the fan turned coach whose ambitions are limitless

Joe Skinner is somewhat of a Burnley legend, having been photographed with then Burnley player Danny Ings, who gave him his boots after a match in 2014. A photograph that went viral and inspired Danny, in partnership with Burnley FC in the Community (BFCiTC), to create the Danny Ings Disability Sports Project.

This moment started Joe, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, on a journey which saw him move from a participant on the scheme, now known as Limitless Clarets, to achieving his coaching qualifications.

Joe writes about his love of Burnley Football Club, how an unusual fear almost prevented him from attending football matches and how football has had a positive impact on his mental health...

I have been given the task of summing up what Burnley FC means to me. To do so in one article seems like a disservice, which will hopefully give you an insight into the scale of my love for the club.

As with every story it's important to start at the beginning. I first started supporting Burnley in 2008, with my first match being Burnley vs Birmingham City, which ended in a 1-1 draw. We took the lead through Chris McCann before Cameron Jerome came off the bench and equalised for Birmingham.

I didn't get a season ticket until four years later though and there is a funny back story as to why that is the case. Until the age of 12 I had an extremely irrational fear of mascots which prevented me from stepping inside a football stadium without being in absolute hysterics. Sorry Bertie Bee!

After teaching at Blessed Trinity RC College for almost 40 years, the legend that is Mick Ennis entered into semi-retirement and became my teaching assistant at the school. I told him about this fear, and he set about putting a plan in place which involved sourcing an old Bertie Bee head from Pat McKiernan, another legend



in Burnley, to get used to being around it.

As well as this he authorised it with the school and my mum to be able to take me on a couple of games to help me feel at ease. It seemed to work as by the end of the Burnley vs Leeds game in October 2011 I was having conversations with Michael Bradshaw whose role it was to be the mascot at the time.

I don't think that could have happened with anyone other than Mick, so I remain eternally grateful to him for helping me to go on the Turf and that has continued ever since as I have had a season ticket for a decade now. I still have the mascot head in my room to serve as one of many reminders of Mick as he is sadly no longer with us.

Captured on camera

The season after that then Burnley striker Danny Ings was taking a corner with a few minutes remaining in our last game of the season against Ipswich Town. He saw me and pointed to his boots which he gave to me at the end of the match. A photo was captured of this moment which went viral and received widespread praise.

Realising the impact the image had, Danny set about creating the Danny Ings Disability Sports Project. Myself and Danny will always have a mutual admiration for each other and I think he is a top man for all he does for charity.

I initially attended the programme as a participant, taking part in wheelchair football sessions. I really enjoyed these as they gave me an insight into how coaching worked, and sparked an interest in me to look into becoming a coach myself.

I went back to BFCiTC on work experience and did some coaching for a week at Ridgewood Community College, helping Danny Wilkinson and Josh Ramsey to deliver some sessions. In July 2018, I was part of a group to be selected to do the FA Level 1 coaching qualification with the Lancashire FA, which was a defining moment for me. I then started volunteering on the project helping at wheelchair football sessions at The Leisure Box in Brierfield and at Turf Moor for an adult disability session. This led me to become a paid casual staff member in October 2019.

My role entails planning and delivering both multi-sports and football sessions to children and adults with additional needs on a weekly basis. It is not just me who does this, we have a great group of casual coaches who all chip in and help run different elements of the session whether it be 1-to-1 work, practical demonstration or setting the session up. We work off a coaching syllabus which means the topics vary each week which adds variety to the sessions and helps to keep the participants engaged.

The full-time members of staff who run the project are Lewis Hickie, Caitlin Walker and Lewis Helps, who give us free reign to experiment with different types of session delivery and regularly provide development opportunities. Seeing the benefits these sessions bring to the children and adults we coach is really uplifting for us all.

A supportive employer

Being in practical environments around people is something I thrive on. However practical work does not come without its challenges, due to the lack of infrastructure in place in

society to help disabled people to fulfil their potential. I am trying to address that particularly in terms of wheelchair access on buses.

BFCiTC have gone above and beyond in terms of their understanding and support to deal with these challenges and I'm so appreciative of that and the people behind the scenes. I love working there with the people that I do as we try to make a difference to participants lives.

The future

I have just finished a Sports Journalism degree and love the creativity of journalism. I have my own podcast, Wheeltalklife, where I talk about topics like music and of course sport and I work with Padiham FC doing commentary and match day announcements.

I am also part of The Ability Group in Sport (TAGS) group and we hope to be the first group to introduce voice dictation match reporting. Match reports need to go out as soon as the final whistle blows, which for anyone who struggles typing is very difficult. Using the technology will make match reporting much more accessible and will hopefully encourage more people with disabilities into sports journalism. We’ve been given the go ahead to trial this at a Burnley FC match soon (so watch this space).

In terms of a job, what I will do in the future is the million-dollar question. After experiencing the things that I have for just part-time employment it does make me wonder how much these issues will be magnified on a full-time scale and whether other potential employers will be as understanding and helpful as BFCiTC.

Anyone will tell you I don't switch off, overthink everything and feel things very deeply but that's part of my nature and makes me who I am. That's why keeping busy and challenging myself across both coaching and journalism really helps me to channel my energy into positive things and is something that helped me pull myself from a very difficult place five years ago.

Regardless of these worries one thing is for certain, although I might be physically sat still most of the time, I refuse to do so mentally. I guess that is a good way to sign off with a message for people reading this who may be struggling in any way - keep going and never give up because your brain can do more than you think.


Joe Redmond the fan behind the TurfCast podcast

From climbing the fence on the Longside stand as a child to now having thousands of subscribers to his YouTube channel; Joe Redmond has combined his passion for Burnley Football Club with his creative skills to launch TurfCast - a successful podcast and YouTube channel.

We met up with Joe to find out where his passion began, and of course, what he thinks of Burnley FC being back in the Premier League. If you’ve watched or listened to any of Joe’s uploads, you’ll know that he’s a Burnley fan through and through. So, when did his love of the team begin?

“I’ve been going on matches since I was a baby. There was no way my dad was going to miss a trip to the Turf, so he took me along in a baby carrier. I don’t remember the first matches as I was so young, in fact I think I cried most of the time, but it was definitely the start of my journey as a claret,” Joe explains.

Joe waited until his son was a little older, but has now introduced five-yearold Parker to Turf Moor and says: “He’s been on a couple of matches with me now. He’s only young, but I hope as he gets older, he’ll enjoy it as much as I do.”

So, what made Joe decide to set up his own podcast?

In 2018, Joe was made redundant from the freelance journalism job he was working on. This was the fourth time he’d been made redundant and with a newborn son to look after, he moved into TV production, broadcasting live sports. While he enjoyed the stability of his new career, there were some things he missed.

He says: “I enjoy working in TV production, but I missed interviewing people and creating content. I’d picked up audio editing skills in my previous job, so I decided

to combine this with my main passion, Burnley FC, and turn it into a podcast.”

And so Turfcast was born. Initially, Joe would interview other Burnley fans about their memories of the club and review matches. His listener figures were steadily growing, but then lockdown hit, and he found himself with more time on his hands. Joe’s friend Simon suggested they started putting out videos on YouTube.

“I was reluctant to be in front of the camera, but with more time on my hands and seeing other people putting out content, I decided to give it a go. At first, I was worried about appearing on screen, but the positive response gave me the confidence to do more.“

As COVID restrictions eased and football matches were played in empty stadiums, Joe started doing live watch-a-longs. With fans missing their fix of live football, these were extremely popular and the Turfcast viewing figures increased into the thousands.

Joe now produces pre and post-shows, where he interviews fellow Burnley fans and supporters from opposing teams to discuss the matches and team performance. He also gives his instant reaction to match results with his 60-second review.

With the Championship season having a heavy schedule of matches, the 2022/23 season certainly kept Joe busy. He says: “It can be difficult fitting in TurfCast with work and family commitments. I really enjoy it though and ideally, I’d love to get sponsorship from a local company so I can put more focus into the channel and spend more time creating content.”

Joe now has over 2,000 subscribers to the Turfcast YouTube channel and a combined social media following of around 19,000 across all the other platforms.

Whatever this season brings for Burnley Football Club, one thing that’s for certain is that Joe will be following the clarets through the highs and the lows and we can’t wait to see how his channel grows. You can find www.turfcast.co.uk on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and wherever you download your podcasts.



with JJ and Kealia Watt

Burnley Football Club’s successful season was enhanced even further when former NFL star JJ Watt and his wife Kealia, an ex-USA football international, invested in the club.

The husband and wife duo joined the celebrations at the promotion parade and whilst the Burnley Brand team were busy making sure the players were where they should be, our friend John Deehan, editor of the Burnley Express caught up with them for us.

So, what is your favourite thing about Burnley?

JJ: The people hands down, it’s the people. The way that they’ve treated us, the way that they’ve welcomed us with open arms. The people here are incredible.

Kealia: Yeah, everybody has been so nice. We’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people. We love Turf Moor and we love the Royal Dyche which we got to visit yesterday. It was an amazing experience. We loved it there.

You can tell just from the videos I’ve seen on social media that you are emotionally invested in the town. Is that fair to say?

JJ: Yes, that is very fair to say. We’re very emotionally invested, and we just want to do right by the supporters of Burnley. I mean, the people and the club are so important here and we just want to make sure that we respect and honour that.

Kealia: Yeah. The first time we came here, we got to visit the Leisure Box. We got to visit the food bank and to see the way Burnley is engrained so much into the community is just unbelievable. And we just loved every minute we’ve gotten to spend here.

And what has the reaction been like back home?

JJ: It’s been great. People are very excited and interested in Burnley and they’re very excited to see them back in the Premier League so they can watch all the games.

Are you excited about coming over next year?

Kealia: Yes, we cannot wait. We’ll be here on opening day and we’re just the biggest Burnley FC supporters and we cannot wait for next season.

And I can’t finish without a word about the women’s game and the Burnley FC women’s team. Are you excited about what the future holds for them as well?

Kealia: Very much. I think Alan Pace has said many times before, he is really investing in the women’s game and he wants to grow this programme here and I really am thankful and hope to be a part of that.

JJ, I take it that's something you agree with?

JJ: 100%. She’s (Kealia) led the way in many ways in the women’s game, and I’m looking forward to helping lead the way here and create a new future for what we can do here with the Burnley FC women.

Kealia you are a free agent at the minute. Is there any chance? Could you leave the little lad at home and come and play here for a few months?

Kealia: I just had a baby, six month old, so I think I’m good for right now.

That’s not a no...?

And JJ what about yourself going in the nets?

JJ: I don’t think anybody wants to see me play, so I’ll stick to the sidelines.



“Itʼs a special place and the staff are special people”

A charity close to Jayʼs heart

Pendleside Hospice was an obvious location to meet Jay at as he’s been a big supporter and ambassador for the charity for many years now. While we were waiting for Jay to arrive Helen McVey, Pendleside’s chief executive, explained why his support means so much: “Jay’s always been very supportive of our work. During COVID he led our ‘keep the hospice open’ campaign. Having someone well known and respected by the local community helps spread the word about our work and has a positive impact on fundraising and community engagement.”

It’s not just Jay who lends his support; his dad Kiko is taking part in the Pendleside Does Strictly competition. When I ask what he thinks about his dad dancing, a smile breaks across Jay’s face.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’m hoping I can make it on the night, depending on fixtures I’d love to be there. I’ve seen him dance after a few drinks so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.”

The Strictly-themed event is just one of many fundraising events the hospice has organised as part of its 35th anniversary.

Since its opening the hospice has become a vital part of our community, caring for those with life-limiting illnesses, their family and carers. As a big supporter of Pendleside, I ask Jay why he thinks it’s such an important place: “Obviously being from Burnley I’ve seen how the hospice helps so many people. Most people have been touched by them, helped by them or know someone who has been supported by them and you can see from the support it receives from around the town what a special place it is. The things they do for people in need, and not just them but for the families as well. I’ve experienced that personally and have got friends that say the same things. It’s a special place and the staff are special people.”

Hometown pride

It’s clear from talking to Jay that he is very proud of his Burnley roots and despite moving away to play at football clubs including Southampton and West Bromwich Albion, his accent remains unashamedly ‘Burnley’.

“Whatever teams I’ve played at I’ve always got a bit of grief over my Burnley accent, as it’s not really changed. I’m pleased about that though. I’m really proud of it and since coming back it’s

definitely got stronger,” Jay explains. It’s fantastic to hear that Jay is such an advocate for Burnley, but does having such a close relationship with the borough add pressure when things aren’t going well on the pitch?

“I think it does, because you feel it first and foremost as a fan. Burnley Football Club has a massive impact on the town itself. So many people come to watch the games. It does add an extra pressure, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learnt to deal with the highs and lows,” he says. He partly puts this down to a work ethic that’s synonymous with the town: “Everyone in Burnley works hard and as long as you keep doing that, people in Burnley will accept that even when things aren’t going to plan.”

It must have been a big relief for Jay that the team’s hard work paid off and they were promoted back to the Premier League as champions?

“It was incredible. Relegation affected all the players and we really wanted to bounce back. The parade hit us all, seeing how many people turned out and seeing what it means to people. That’s something that you’ll never forget,” Jay explains.

Following the open-top bus parade through Burnley centre, the celebrations continued into the night with an after



“Everyone in Burnley works hard and as long as you keep doing that people in Burnley will accept that - even when things arenʼt going to plan.”

party at The Palazzo, a restaurant that Jay and his family are big fans of. So, was it a case of what happened at The Palazzo stays at The Palazzo? Jay laughingly replies: “There were a few sore heads the next day, I’m sure. It was a tough year for everyone at the club, the amount of work that was put in by all the staff was unreal, so it was nice to let your hair down, reminisce and really celebrate what we had achieved. It was brilliant.”


This is Jay’s second stint at Burnley, having rejoined the club from West Brom in 2019. I wonder if things had changed during the seven years he was away:

“There was a massive change. When I came back the training ground and everything around the club had moved on and developed. But everywhere around the town as well. When you are away you do miss home. When I played for other teams, it was always a highlight for me and my wife Simone to come back and enjoy being in Burnley.”

Jay was inspired to play football by his dad, who played non-league football and even had trials for Burnley. So, would he like his two-and-a-half-yearold daughter to follow in his footsteps?

“We take her to games and she knows that daddy goes to football. She’s always kicking a ball about and putting the kit on. My daughter is actually at her calmest when we are watching the matches. As soon as it starts, she’s glued to the match. It’s something I’d love her to get involved with, if that’s what she wants to do. It’s a really good way for children to meet friends, learn discipline and have fun with the game. I actually took her on the match the Burnley FC Women’s team played at Turf Moor and she really enjoyed it. I really hope they get to play more games there.”

Burnleyʼs best bits

With Jay having the inside knowledge of the borough and with so many new players joining the squad, I ask him where he would take them on a tour of Burnley:

“I’d definitely take them to Towneley Park, I grew up going there, played football and golf there so that’s a great place and I still go there now. I drove past Thursby Park the other day, where I used to play as a kid. It brought back some great memories, although the park looked a bit better than it did when I was young.

“I also love Continentals on Keirby Walk. When I first broke through to the first team I’d go there after training and spend most of the afternoon there, eating their food and chilling. And then maybe take them for an Enzos,” he chuckles, before adding: “There’s a lot of nice places in Burnley, but for me it’s the people, everyone’s just dead welcoming and friendly.”

Enzos, the Italian takeaway on Colne Road, has cropped up in interviews I’ve seen Jay do before and, as for many people in Burnley, it’s a firm favourite with the Rodriguez family.

“Enzos was a big part of my childhood. We are on a strict regime now so I can’t eat it too often, but my parents will still sometimes ring me up and ask if I’m coming over for an Enzos.”

Despite trying to tempt him with the odd takeaway, Jay’s credits his family with being a big part of his success. He grew up on Queen Victoria Road with dad Kiko, mum Carol and brother Joe:

“My parents are both very supportive. My dad always gets the credit because he played football, but they’ve both been fantastic, as has my brother and my wife. Family is really important to me.” As the interview draws to a close, I ask Jay, who is an inspiration to many young people from Burnley and beyond, what advice he would give to those interested in getting into professional sports: “For me the most important thing is to enjoy it and to not put too much pressure on yourself. Obviously, there is an element of pressure that comes with sport but just enjoy it, give everything and work hard. If you tick all those boxes, you’ll be ok. You might have to be out of your comfort zone sometimes, but my parents always taught me to just do your best, work hard and stay grounded.”

After having spent just a short time with Jay I can confirm he’s most definitely remained grounded. Despite his immensely successful football career he’s still a humble, down-to-earth Burnley lad and we are extremely proud to call him one of our own!

Quick-fire questions

Beating Blackburn Rovers at Turf Moor or at Ewood Park?

I think what we just did (winning the league at Ewood Park). I remember coming off the pitch and saying that won’t ever happen again.

Favourite Burnley player from when you were young?

The first time I was really star struck was with Ian Wright. I was really lucky to meet and play alongside Robbie Blake as well, I learnt a lot from him as a striker.

Favourite chant – Doo Wah Diddy or Jay Rodriguez he’s one of our own?

I quite like the Doo Wah Diddy one. My mates sent it me when it first started, it’s quite a good tune.

What song would you choose to play on Turf Moor before the match starts?

The Smiths – How Soon is Now.

Bertie or Bella?

It has to be both of them, my little girl likes the bees.

Bene 'n’ hot or you’d rather not?

Bene ‘n’ hot, 100% - I actually love it, especially if you are feeling under the weather.



If thereʼs one thing that everyone knows about Burnley itʼs that we are die-hard football fans.

Sowe often grow obsessive over anyone or anything Burnley FC related, whether that’s watching our favourite player on top form in a winning game, a media personality putting Turf Moor on the map, or singing a claret-themed jingle that gets stuck in our heads for weeks on end!

Kasey Fielding, 17 years old from Accrington, has done the latter. Kasey was approached by Burnley College, where they study BTech Performing Arts, in March of this year and asked to take part in a unique opportunity that most 17-year-olds could only dream of.

Using the college’s hightech recording and productions studio, Kasey sang My Claret and Blue, that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Burnley FC and the community it builds around the club.

The song was so well received that it was played at the Burnley vs Sheffield United match at Turf Moor.

We had a chat with Kasey and spoke about this impressive achievement.

“It was a great opportunity to have my college approach me to record this song – you donʼt hear many songs that bring a community together as well as this one”

“To have it played at Turf Moor was really strange and surreal. Luckily it got overwhelmingly good feedback – everyone seemed to love it and I still get it sang to me all the time.”

“I’ve got really supportive friends as well so we were all jumping around with excitement when the news came that it was going to be played.”

Kasey not only received positive feedback from friends and the public, a certain worldfamous NFL player was also taken back by Kasey’s vocal prowess. JJ Watt, who invested in the club last year, spoke to Kasey during his visit to Burnley College, where he heard the song performed:

“It was kind of nerveracking meeting JJ and hearing his opinion. But, apparently he loved it and that it should be on Spotify! It felt incredible hearing that feedback and I was completely taken back because he’s so famous.”

This is not the first time Kasey’s been in the spotlight. They performed at the mayor’s ball in Burnley in their first year of college and, had the main role in Burnley College’s play, ‘Legally Blonde’.

Kasey is without doubt a star in the making and it’s great to hear them sing so passionately about our beloved football club.

Anyone who’s not heard My Claret and Blue yet should definitely have a listen on the Burnley College YouTube channel.

Listen to My Claret and Blue - Kasey Fielding Kasey says:


Jack Sharpe, otherwise known as Bacchus, is another loyal Claret fan making waves with his Burnley FC-themed track.

The local grime artist began his music career writing lyrics to songs in his friend’s bedroom back in school and is most commonly known for his song “Ashley Barnes,” which has now hit a monumental 100,000 streams.

It was also played at Burnley’s last game of the season in Jordan North’s DJ set, which is very fitting as it was Ashley Barnes’s last ever game at Burnley. We caught up with Jack to find out more.

How did it feel to have your track played at such an iconic game?

JS: Wild. Absolutely wild. I had no idea it was coming. I was away at the time, all of a sudden my phone started blowing up with videos of Jordan North playing it and people singing along. Saw one or two people seemed to know it word for word, which is so, so sick. So good to see that it hit that hard with people.

What has happened since we last interviewed you in 2019?

JS: I’ve just been taking life as it comes, not taking anything too seriously - trying to keep everything balanced. I put out an album in 2020, which was packed full of grimey bangers. Aside from that, I’ve spent time working with a whole load of great artists. Myself and Doberman put out a track called Table Manners which was a lot of fun to make. Lately, I released a dub-inspired whopper called Terradome with a Russian producer. I think the spotlight has moved on to different genres than grime, but to this day I love it - so I’ll still be here putting my own stamp on it.

The Ashley Barnes track has hit 100,000 streams recentlywhy do you think the song has resonated so well with fans?

JS: I still find that crazy. I think it just hit hard because it was unapologetically Burnley through and through - with references like bene ‘n’ hot. I think the opening line sets the tone really. A lot of Burnley fans on Twitter really got behind it too - and just seemed to keep pushing it on. It’s crazy how far it went - what a moment. I’ll never forget visiting the training ground and Ashley Westwood hanging out of a window shouting one of the lyrics.

What do you think about Barnsey leaving?

JS: Gutted, really is the end of an era. But all good things have to come to an end. He’s been an absolute icon for the club over the years. He didn’t have the best of starts last season - then had a proper ‘I’m him’ moment with the Blackburn game. I think that’s probably the best game I’ve ever been on. Nearly bagging a hat-trick and putting the keeper on his arse was absolute scenes. And his choice of words in the interview afterwards. Then he went on to be a really big part of yet another Burnley promotion. Sad to see him go, but glad to see him leave on a high and he’ll forever be a legend. Norwich, take care of him!

Can you talk about some of your more recent tracks?

JS: Yeah! I put out Terradome earlier this year, which might be one of my personal favourites. Otherwise, follow me on socials for updates. I’ve got a few things in the pipeline, including a jungle track which is a step way outside anything I’ve ever done!

Are you making anymore Burnley FC-related songs in the future?

JS: Hmmm... if I think I can make one as good then maybe. At the same time, when I made Ashley Barnes I left the studio with such a buzz. Then it became what it became. I don’t want to take away from that by trying to rinse a formula. Happy to have had that impact and move on.

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A referee’s lifetime devotion to local football, a thriving kickboxing club and a school with platinum sporting credentials were among the winners at the Active Burnley Awards organised and run by Burnley Leisure and Culture. The annual celebration pays tribute to those who show dedication at a range of sporting, health, and well-being activities at all levels, and those who work tirelessly to support individuals or community clubs, for the love of the sport or their community.


Ten winners were announced at a glittering ceremony at Burnley Mechanics hosted by former Lionessesgoalkeeper-turned-TV-pundit, Rachel Brown-Finnis.

Burnley-born Rachel won 82 caps for England in a stellar career that saw her collect a Women’s FA Cup winners’ medal, play Women’s Super League soccer for Liverpool Women and Everton Ladies, and represent GB at the London 2012 Olympics.

All the Burnley winners will now go forward to the Active Lancashire Awards, pitting their achievements against those chosen from similar award scheme throughout the county. The awards, which saw three Burnley winners named best in Lancashire last year, will be held at Ewood Park, Blackburn, on Friday 17th November.

I'm immensely proud to be hosting these awards. Iʼve never actually hosted awards before, so it's a new skill set and you know I like to be out my comfort zone.
To be back in Burnley… with so many familiar faces and to see so much development, achievements, community spirit; everything that I experienced as a child that led to me going on to play football and find my passion for football has been outstandingly inspiring.

Iʼve had a brilliant time and itʼs great to know that the talent pool is massive in Burnley.


The Winners

Volunteer of the Year - Awais Javid

As a teenager AJ volunteered with Burnley Leisure’s Sports Development Team, since which he has been committed to improving opportunities locally through sport for over 20 years. Most notably at Daneshouse FC, starting as a player, then a volunteer coach and now as club chair. He has recently led on developing the Canalside centre as a community venue and youth club, creating a safe space for young people. The judges said: “AJ is a true example of a young person being given opportunities and then using them to develop himself as a leader and give back to his community.”

Individual Contribution to Active Communities - Noor Miah

Noor Miah is a volunteer at Shah Jalal Mosque in Burnley and started the Stoneyholme community project, which aims to increase people's well-being through socially interacting. In his spare time he runs different activities and initiatives including careers fairs, regular sports sessions in partnership with Burnley FC in the Community, and other partner organisations. Weekly sports sessions at Stoneyholme Primary School and at the community hall, introducing young people to sports and youth activities. For his work he was recently named Volunteer of the Year at the National Beacon Mosque Awards.

The Shah Jalal Mosque is also working with Burnley Council to develop a community garden, to encourage outdoor activity through gardening whilst also connecting to nature, looking at food sustainability, healthy eating, and improving both physical health and mental health.

Contribution to Active Communities - Ejaz Hussain, Burnley Cricket League

Ejaz is responsible for the resurgence of cricket at Towneley Park, once a hotbed of the game until 2015 when its demise came about through a combination of factors.

Following the pandemic, Ejaz and a number of other cricket enthusiasts decided they would bring cricket back to Towneley to promote physical activity, improve mental health, and promote the sport.

Without any funding or support and working in partnership with the local authority and community leaders, they encouraged teams to enter the league and in its first season back four teams competed in a cup and league competition. The aim now is to add more teams as time goes by.

As well as benefitting those playing, the return of cricket to Towneley has brought a little extra interest to the park, with passersby regularly stopping to watch the games.


Health and Wellbeing Award - Bea Foster

Bea has been an outstanding youth worker in Burnley for more than 40 years, initially through her role with Lancashire County Council’s Youth Service before retirement.

She is well known for her work within the charity and faith sectors, which she did alongside her mainstream career and continues to play an active role in these sectors, even in retirement. This dedication has resulted in countless young people becoming involved in various forms of public service.

She has helped young people from diverse backgrounds to participate in a wide variety of sports and cultural activities.

Bea played a leading role in developing a multifaith and multi-cultural response to the disturbances of 2001 and has continued this important work through Building Bridges in Burnley. She has also been a key player in securing the future of West End Community Centre and has served as a local councillor following her retirement.

Burnley Together Partnership Award - Burnley Linked

This award is given to a project showcasing true collaboration to achieve its aims and objectives.

Burnley Linked is a partnership for connecting and sharing that focuses on voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise groups and charity organisations in and around Burnley. The group regularly feeds back into the Burnley Together Health and Wellbeing Partnership.

The Burnley Linked network meets on the last Thursday of every month at 10am. The meetings taking place online, making it accessible to more partners and members.

The partner list is extensive, and members include BPRCVS, PCN East, PCN West, Burnley Council, Burnley Leisure and Culture, Calico, Participation works, UCLan, Brighter Lives, Building Bridges Burnley, BFCitC, Carers Link, Cherry Fold Primary School, and Gannow Community Centre, to name a few.

Primary School of the Year - Cherry

Fold Community Primary School

This award is given to the primary school that has gone above and beyond to support its pupils’ physical and mental well-being.

Cherry Fold Community Primary School has been awarded the Platinum Schools Games Mark accreditation, progressing from the Bronze Award it acquired in 2015 - a huge achievement for a school in a highly deprived area of the town.

As part of a drive to deliver 30 active minutes a day, the school has implemented a Daily Mile and through this pupils have travelled all over the virtual world and linked the activity to the wider curriculum

The school supports Sports Leaders, where the older children deliver structured activities on the playgrounds at break and lunchtimes for Early Years Foundation Studies, Key Stage 1, and Key Stage 2. Alongside this, staff run a daily sporting event on the Key Stage 2 yard at break and lunch which is open to all children.

After-school swimming lessons are offered to pupils to develop water confidence. Expert coaches are invited in to deliver specialist sessions such as golf, rugby, dance, bike safety, and fundamental skills.


Active Workplace of the Year Award - Birchall Foodservice

This award is for local businesses that have gone above and beyond to support employees’ physical health and well-being – both of which Birchall Foodservice see as being integral to employee development.

To help their staff lead healthier lifestyles they provide fresh fruit bowls, free fitness classes, standing desks, and reduced cost gym memberships for all employees. They also have a fully qualified counsellor regularly visiting the site to offer free counselling to any employee who needs it and have employed a full time in-house chef to prepare daily fresh meals, all subsidised by the company.

Employees can enjoy nutritious meals for as little as £1, have fresh salads prepared for them daily for £1.50 and the chef cooks weekly specials - all combining in healthier diets and saving staff money.

Birchall’s community support is prodigious too. For the past three years, they have been the headline sponsor of Towneley Golf Course, enabling their employees to enjoy complimentary golf on the course and at the Prairie Sports Village driving range. They are also the main sponsor of Lowerhouse Cricket Club and other sponsorships include a player at a local rugby club and an under-15s football team.

All of this is underpinned by an in-house charity, Helping Hands, providing financial and other support for employees and their families.

Rising Star - Ritchie Riley

Ritchie is a talented seven-year-old golfer already competing at international level, having recently taken part in the World Junior Golf Championships in Portugal where he came joint fifth. Ritchie is enjoying a superb 2023 - he is the current leader of the Robert Rock junior tour order of merit, and he’s won all four of the first four junior majors of the year, including the British Masters champion, held at the Belfry, along with qualifying for World Junior Golf Championship again for February 2024. Ritchie has also raised over £3,000 for Pendleside Hospice at various events over the past 12 months.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Stuart Nicolson

The climax of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award for someone who has shown a commitment of at least 20 years to sport and active lifestyles. It was won by football referee Stuart, who has been involved in the game at all levels for more than 60 years.

Over the decades, he progressed his career until officiating at Football League Youth Lions Under-21s matches from 1985 until recently. His claim to fame includes refereeing a Lancashire Youth League gameManchester United vs Bury - when he made it into the tabloid press for cautioning Sir Alex Ferguson for dissent!

Stuart has refereed in the Lancashire Amateur League for over 40 years, and in 2018 was appointed president. He has also been president of the Burnley Referees’ Association, manager of Brunlea Juniors and the fourth official at Burnley FC’s Turf Moor ground many times and is well known for being an avid Burnley FC fan.

The judges said: “Stuart has been instrumental in coaching and training new referees for future generations, and as he reaches a ripe old age and his career will be coming to an end in the near future, this is the perfect year to recognise his dedication to refereeing and football over the last 61 years.”


The biggest winner of the night

Club of the Year – Dragons Kickboxing Club Coach of the Year – Steven Wong Young Achiever of the Year – Oliwia Kaczmarek

Dragons Kickboxing Club stole the show at this year's Active Burnley Awards. Nominated in three categories and winning all three, this is a huge testament to the hard work and passion of the club and its fighters.

Established over ten years ago, and based at Habergham Mill on Accrington Road, Dragons Kickboxing Club (Club of the Year 2023 Winner) has grown from strength to strength under the leadership of founder and coach Steven Wong (Coach of the Year 2023 Winner). Dragons also won best club not once, but twice at both the English and European Championships.

Steven has been involved in martial arts since 1999 and has recently been awarded 4th Dan Blackbelt. In 2013 he decided to take everything he knew and focus on teaching. He set up Dragons Kickboxing Club in one of the most deprived areas of Burnley. Steven saw an opportunity not only to teach self defense but to make an impact on the

lives of people in the community. The club aims to inspire young people to work hard, teach vital life skills, develop discipline, and respect for other people.

Cost can often be a barrier to participation in sport but the club prides itself on being inclusive and strives to find a way to support young people who can't afford to pay to attend classes. It recently secured funding from local business Depher to offer a year’s worth of free sessions. Steven also works in partnership with Active Lancashire, delivering sessions for their target groups, in particular people with substance misuse and complex needs.

In addition to 1-1 lessons the club offers over 26 hours of classes per week with students ranging from as young as three years old to 50+. Steven typically teaches seven hours of kickboxing a day and gives up many weekends to take students to competitions up and down the country and even abroad. This dedication to the sport and his

students is really paying off: students from Dragons Kickboxing Club have achieved English, British, European, Five Nations and World Championship titles.

One such student is Oliwia Kaczmarek (Young Achiever of the Year 2023 Winner). Oliwia joined Dragons Kickboxing Club at the age of eight as a shy young girl who's confidence was so low she struggled to speak to people. Eight years on, with four training sessions a week and 100 competitive fights to her name, Oliwia is now confident, hard working and ambitious. She is the current British WKO -55kg full contact kickboxing champion as well as WKA, ISKA, AFSO, and WFMC champion in her weight division. Unbeaten in 2022, Oliwia won English, British, European, and World open tournaments. Her transformation and accomplishments are remarkable and she is not planning on stopping any time soon, we foresee a long and successful career for many years to come.


Oliwia is on track to achieving her black belt this year following in the foot of two other students, mother and daughter Amanda and Alyssa Bristow (Young Achiever of the Year 2023 Nominee).

Alyssa, who was also highly commended in the Young Achievers category at this years awards, is a great example of the Dragons spirit. She has won one gold, two silver and one bronze at the WKO European Championships, three gold at the WKO British Open championships, three Gold at the WKA World Championships, four Gold and two Silver at the ISKA British Open Championships (the list goes on and seems endless)... Not content with all that, Alyssa also assists and coaches a class of younger girls at the club. Giving back to her club and community while instilling confidence in the next generation of students, she takes great pride in seeing them develop and is a great role model.

It is hard to see how Dragons Kickboxing Club could achieve more, but with such committed people at its core the possibilities are endless and their future looks bright.

For the full story and a few emotional videos visit blcgroup.co.uk/blog and if you think you have what it takes to be a champion, nominations for Active Burnley Awards 2024 open in January.

"Absolutely blown away by it!
The competition was phenomenal, so to win is amazing. The success of the club is down to teamwork, it doesnʼt just work around me, everyone works hard, the parents and the kids."
…an emotional Steven on the night


Everybody knows we’re a passionate footballing borough, it’s part of our identity, along with hard work and determination. But, football is not the only sport we identify strongly with.

We have a huge array of talented athletes coming out of Burnley from a variety of different sports. Sport of any kind is part of the culture here (this goes well with the hard work and determination bit which makes us super competitive). We have our eyes on many rising sport stars are on track to be the next big thing. Here are just three that we think you should know about:

Molly, 17 years old from Burnley, is a rugby player who has recently been selected as part of the England Rugby Centre of Excellence - Sale Sharks Squad 2023. This is a squad of young high-performing rugby players that endure intense training and many see it as a pathway to playing for England.

Molly joined the squad in June 2023, after two days of trials, and now travels to Manchester twice a week for training. She previously played for Lancashire, but after excelling at her trials for the Sale Sharks she’s determined to make a name for herself in the world of women’s rugby.

On top of extreme dedication and hard work, some of Molly’s success can be attributed to the support she receives from Burnley College’s Elite Athlete Programme, a leading strength and conditioning programme designed for students performing regionally, nationally and internationally whilst also studying at the college.



Jessica, who goes to Blessed Trinity High School, is just 12 years old and was the youngest nominee in the young achiever category of last year’s recent Active Burnley Awards.

She excels in a wide range of sports including cricket, football, golf, horse riding, swimming for Burnley Bobcats, rugby at Belvedere, athletics on track and field events such as javelin, discus, shotput, high jump, and long jump – quite a resume for a year 7 student!

Out of all of these, however, cricket is her number one.

After starting at Lowerhouse All Stars, she was then asked to play for the club, alongside playing for Church Cricket Club as well. Jessica’s future aspirations are to represent England in every sport or to the highest level in every sport possible. It’s no wonder that she’s got a huge number one fan, her little sister Olivia, who follows Jessica everywhere watching her big sister competing at every sport.


James, 17 years old from Burnley, who plays for England Thorns Netball team. He recently toured Australia and New Zealand, playing against some of the world’s best male and female netballers. This was an international series against the two countries. He then played in the world FAST5 tournament where he says: “It was unreal to get my first senior international cap for England, being up there singing the national anthem just gives me more motivation to get even more caps in the future.”

James is also on the Elite Athlete Programme at Burnley College where they support him with strength and conditioning for his bright future in netball.


Chris Holdsworth


Chris, on top of winning many local and national races, you recently broke your own course record with a blistering 14 minutes 50 seconds time at Burnley Parkrun. What is it that keeps you coming back to the Parkrun in Towneley Park?

CH: It’s one of the places and reasons my obsession with the sport developed. The ability to rock up on a Saturday morning just down the road to see if there’s been any further improvement on my 5k time was an immediate pull. This desire to see if I could go faster and harder seeped into the local racing scene and grew from there. I always love visiting every now and then to see if I can knock that little bit more off my time, but mostly the buzz of running with the local running community and enjoying the positive energy first thing Saturday mornings always sets you up for a great weekend to follow.

There is an uphill segment on Strava named after you in Worsthorne (L’Col de Holdsworth), how did your obsession with running on hills begin?

CH: This other side of my running obsession grew from seeing how fast I could run to Gorple Rocks and back from the village. I think it’s a desire many can resonate with, seeing just how fast they can go ‘there and back again’, but with Gorple there’s the added factor of being able to appreciate our local surroundings whilst doing so. I loved nothing more than on a spring or autumn evening, racing back from work, getting my kit on as soon as possible and out the door to see if I could get up and down before the sun sank behind Pendle Hill in the distance. Sometimes, the view was too spectacular to not slow down a little to take it all in.

Over the years, I’ve become a long-distance runner, mostly born out of wanting to see how much of our local surroundings I can explore in one run. A favourite being over to Hardcastle Crags and back. This then contributed to the formation of the Pennine Trail Marathon so that I could bring to the attention of others how amazing our trails and countryside really is.

So, your whole life is now dedicated to running. Tell us about quitting your old job in order to set up your successful running event enterprise, Pennine Trails?

CH: Having raced in the likes of Wales, the Lake District and for the national teams in Europe, it seemed a shame we didn’t have big trail running events in our location for our community to enjoy. They can be fantastic days out for the runners and their family, as well as be a big benefit for the local communities that host the start and finish of the races.

In Worsthorne, we are quite literally at the heart of the Pennine Way, making us the home of the Pennine Trails, and this is where the Pennine Trail Marathon begins and ends.

It didn’t come easy quitting my job to establish these races, and was something I did outside of work and around my own running, sometimes having to sacrifice my own goals so that others could achieve theirs. What we’ve managed to create has been really special; not only getting people to do their first trail races, but first-ever races full stop! We’ve given the local running community new challenges to aim for, as well as a reason for people elsewhere to come and visit and appreciate our countryside. We hope to expand the Pennine Trail Marathon further by creating the Pennine Trail Festival with different distances so that there’s races for all abilities, which will in turn furth benefit the local area with passing trade – watch this space!

Last year, we also contributed some funds from the event to Trees for Burnley to plant trees in the area. Being able to give back to the area that helped develop my own running was always a major ambition, and I was delighted to be able to do so through the event that takes place in the area. I look forward to continuing to do so in the years to come.

You also love coaching runners of all levels, recently setting up Endurance State, your coaching company. Why the move into coaching?

CH: I recently went through a tough spell with injury and illnesses which affected my ability to race and train well for a couple of years. You can learn a lot in your rise towards the top of the sport, but you learn a hell of a lot more on the fall back down. Building myself back up and learning about the pitfalls of pushing your body to extremes, in and outside of running, teaches you a lot more than you can ever get from success alone.

Having a coach when running’s going well is great, but it’s when things get difficult when you really need one. I always envisioned I’d eventually move into coaching as my own ‘running career’ wound down, but I felt with my own experiences, both good and bad, that I could offer help to other runners today, so why wait!

And finally, amongst all that you still perform at a high level, competing with the best mountain runners in Britain. What are your own personal goals for the future?

CH: After a couple of years out from the national team, I’ll hopefully be in a position to compete for a few of those places in the next couple of years. I’ve got dreams of success in some of the biggest events in our own country, particularly the Yorkshire Three Peaks and improving on my previous best of 2 hours 54 minutes, as well as venturing back over to compete in some of the best trail and mountain races in Europe. And, maybe knock some more time off my Burnley Parkrun record!

You can find Chris here: www.penninetrails.com and www.endurancestate.com


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the high-flying TV executive editor whose superpower is being from Burnley



“I thought I had to be in London to have my dream career in TV. But now Iʼve moved back home, I can see that really isnʼt the case.”

Emma Morris is sat inside the new Icaro Lounge at Pioneer Place, telling Burnley Lifestyle how she’s come full circle. Now an incredibly successful producer at the BBC, Emma is the executive editor for both The One Show and Morning Live, a career she could have only dreamt about when she was a little girl growing up in Burnley. She’s also been acting editor of Loose Women, deputy editor of This Morning and worked at Sky News, so it’s quite the career path for Emma.


Emma grew up in the Manchester Road area of Burnley, along with her siblings Matt and Cat and her parents Val and Mike. She attended the now-closed St Hilda’s RC High School, where her insistence that she wanted to work in TV was met with some cynicism.

“When I told the careers advisor I wanted to work in TV, I was told to be more realistic and that maybe I should consider hairdressing instead. Hairdressing is an amazing career, in fact, my sister is one, but my suspicions that I don’t have the right skill set were more than confirmed when I attempted to cut my son’s hair in lockdown - it was worse than bad!

“I come from a working-class family and a TV career just wasn’t something that people did when I was growing up – and if they did, they certainly weren’t still living in the town. I thought that I had to move away to achieve my dreams. I went to Nelson & Colne College and then to university in Leeds, where I studied Psychology and Media and later returned to do a post graduate diploma in Journalism. After working at Granada TV for a few years, I moved to London in 2008 and created a life for myself there. I had my two children, Oscar and Olivia, who are nine and four, and I absolutely loved my life in the capital. With my job comes a great lifestyle and social aspect and the children were settled and really happy.

“I genuinely couldnʼt have imagined ever moving back up north. But then came a chat with my boss in 2021 which changed everything. Iʼd launched a brand new live daytime show called Morning Live on BBC One during the pandemic and it was doing really well in the ratings, beating shows like This Morning and Lorraine. The channel wanted to commit to it longer term, which was an amazing achievement, but as part of the BBCʼs commitment to moving productions across the UK, it would be in Manchester, not London. Moving the show up north made perfect sense for so many reasons. But still, my head was spinning. My bosses at the BBC were so supportive and we talked through various options because at that point, I was really settled in the south but when I went to look around potential studio spaces in Manchester, I just knew it was the right time to come back.”

All roads lead to Burnley

The idea of switching London for Manchester felt pretty daunting, despite both offering great city living. However, life took a turn for Emma, which resulted in her swapping Manchester for Burnley. Just as Emma announced to her parents that she was moving back up north, her parents announced they were moving out of the family home and her mum had the perfect new residents in mind.

“My mum asked me why I was considering Manchester over Burnley and I didn’t really have an answer! It had never occurred to me that I could work on national TV shows, all whilst living in my hometown. She told me about all the amazing changes that had happened over the years, she reminded me of the brilliant upbringing I’d had here, in the very same house, and she suggested I move to Burnley with the children instead - so I did!


“On paper, it made sense. It was obviously miles more affordable than living in a city and I’d be closer to my family which I knew would help with settling my children in. They get on great with their cousin and my nephew, Ed, and it’s lovely they all get to go to the same school now. I was really nervous though and I had some preconceptions about moving back, but I’ll admit I’ve been proven completely wrong!” Emma laughs as she explains her journey.

“So much of my life has changed since moving back - but mostly in a really positive way. I miss some aspects of living in central London, but I’m so much more relaxed living here. I love going on walks and swapping my high heels for hiking boots, something I thought I’d never say! And getting out into the countryside helps me recharge and unwind from the stresses of my day job. I don’t worry quite as much about having my mobile nicked every time I leave the train station and I feel much safer letting the children play out here – I just couldn’t have done that in London. It was such a nice feeling seeing my son go out to play kerby with the kids from our street just after we’d moved back, it reminded me of how happy and relaxed my childhood had been. There’s much more of a focus on competitive sport for kids too, which I think really helps to build ambition and resilience. Oscar’s fallen in love with cricket and now, instead of going for brunch by the River Thames on a Saturday morning, I spend my weekends watching him play with his Burnley team mates at various grounds around the northwest. I’m not sure that’s a huge win for me, but Oscar’s living his best life and I love that he’s started to get a Burnley accent!”

One of the huge investments Emma has been impressed with is Pioneer Place, which of course we are sat in for our interview. Icaro Lounge is busy; in fact, whenever we’ve popped in, it’s been bustling. Starbucks and Nando’s are two huge popular brands, and at the time of writing this feature in July 2023, REEL Cinema and Heavenly Desserts were set to open their doors after the summer holidays, with another brand in the wings waiting to be announced.

“I feel proud to invite my friends and colleagues to see Burnley and the surrounding area. I work really closely with TV presenters Dr Ranj Singh and Gethin Jones. I’d been telling them all about the views from Pendle Hill and dragged them up with me one weekend, along with some of my other colleagues. Unbelievably, I picked a day with practically zero visibility and it was so foggy once we got to the top, we couldn’t see a thing. Thankfully Geth trusted me enough to come back for another hike and we got the ‘views for days’ I’d promised. I’ve had to tell Ranj and the others to take my word for it!” Emma continues.

The trio have managed to get some other more successful walks under their belts, such as Hurstwood Reservoir and Downham: “The lads get some funny looks from other walkers and I’ve seen some comedy double takes as people see Dr Ranj off the tele, marching across a field in his joggers! But they love it around here as everyone’s so nice and down to earth and as long as there’s a country pub to get some decent food and drinks in after, everyone’s happy!”

It’s not just the countryside that Emma appreciates with her move back up north.

“The children are mixing with people from all walks of life, which is really important to me. You can be in a bit of a bubble in London, and I do think the balance has been good for the three of us. I also think being from Burnley and being back here has made me better at my job. One of the big pushes for the BBC to move productions out of London is to connect with audiences and bring regional stories to a national platform, which is something I couldn’t be more passionate about. I’ve always seen being from Burnley as my super power in TV because it helps me understand the issues and things that really matter to everyday people.

Emmaʼs son Oscar at Burnley Cricket Club Emma, Gethin Jones and TV presenter Dr Xand and his wife Dolly at Hurstwood Emma and her colleagues on the foggy Pendle Hill trip!
Dr 95
Emma with Gethin Jones and Dr Punam from Morning Live up Pendle Hill

“It’s one of the reasons I think people like Radio One’s Jordan North, BBC News presenter Ben Thompson and ITV’s Dr Zoe Williams (who is my daughter’s amazing godmother) are so good at their jobs - if you’re from Burnley, you have a certain something which helps you to be relatable. At work, if one of the team says we should cover a certain topic or trend because 'everyone' is talking it, I’ve often thought - ‘well, they’re not in Burnley!’ My team teases me because I always say, 'If I go down to Asda in Burnley right now, do you really think this is what they’re all talking about in the checkout queue?' It’s becoming a running joke, but I think it’s a great barometer for deciding what topics we’re going to do and I often come up with ideas for the show by listening in to conversations in coffee shops in town - or chatting to my mum and her mate Denise. I don’t think there’s a weekly planning meeting where we don’t talk about those two! If they’ve got no interest in a topic, I know it’s not going to work on the show. I think the reason Morning Live is seeing an increase in viewers at a time when lots of other shows are seeing their figures decline is because we cover subjects that really matter to people in northern places like Burnley, which can sometimes be forgotten about on TV,” Emma honestly details.

However, there is one VERY important reason why her daughter Olivia is so impressed with their new hometown –

“She loves it here because she gets gravy served with all her meals at nursery. I always knew she was a northerner at heart!”

The right move for Emma Countryside (and gravy!) aside, Emma has been taken by surprise in other ways too.

“I’ve fallen in love with an amazing Burnley lad called Ben and I’ve never been happier. Having both grown up here we’ve got loads in common, including our love of house music, having both been through the Panama days! Ben’s northern perspective and values give me a much needed reality check at times and he definitely helps to keep me grounded by reminding me about what really matters. Plus, I think that Burnley people have the best sense of humour and there’s nothing more attractive than someone who makes you laugh! There’s so much more going on than when I left. Pioneer Place of course, Crow Wood Hotel, and the restaurants and bars are great too. I love the quirkiness of The Circ, The Loom does a mean espresso martini and I love the sourdough pizzas in The Palazzo - Pino and his team always make a fuss of us when we go in which helped make us feel really welcome when we first moved back.

“Also, just seeing how the place has come on as a whole – Burnley College has massively expanded, and The University of Central Lancashire is also an incredible achievement. My brother’s recently started working at Burnley College and I’ve been so impressed with everything I’ve seen and heard from him. My son’s just done a summer course in art there and as I’ve looked around when I’ve picked him up, I can’t believe the facilities and equipment they have - it all helps to give young people the best start to their careers and be on even step in what’s such a competitive world. I’d actually love to get involved with speaking in schools too; I genuinely believe if you’ve got the right attitude and you’re willing to put the graft in, there’s a job for everyone in TV. I want to make sure that young people in Burnley know they can achieve anything that want to be. My sister is a hairdresser and a really successful one at that, but my passion was TV and I’m so glad I followed my dreams.

“I can easily get to Manchester by train, bus or car, I live in a beautiful home in a community where my children can freely play outside and I know my lovely neighbours really well. I still have the career that I love and I’m beyond proud of the fact I’m the boss of shows like The One Show and Morning Live... and I live in Burnley! As soon as I step back into Burnley, I forget any stresses from the day and my work/life balance has never been healthier. Definitely the best move for us as a family.”

Emma and Dr Ranj at The Palazzo in Burnley Emma, Dr Ranj Singh and Gethin Jones on one of their northern walks! Emma's daughter Olivia with Gethin Jones in Emma's garden in Burnley
Emma and her partner Ben

BACK HOME IN beautiful Burnley

William Foley

Having moved away from Burnley to follow his dream of working in the beauty industry, William Foley has broken barriers and forged a successful career as a facialist to the stars.

When life ‘took a bit of a detour,‘ he found himself moving back to his hometown, a place William believes has helped him become the success he is today. He now splits his time between Burnley and the One Aesthetic Studio in Alderley Edge, where he carries out treatments on his clients, many of whom are well known names in the entertainment industry.

William took some time out from his busy schedule to talk to Burnley Lifestyle about his journey.

William, thanks for taking time to speak to us. Can you tell us about why you were drawn to working in the aesthetics industry?

WF: When I was younger I had acne, which was deeply debilitating to me because I never really wanted to go out anywhere. I remember trying to cover that with makeup and fake tans and all these things. It was awful and affected my confidence.

This made me realise what an impact our skin can have on how we feel on the inside. I wanted to be able to help people to create that confidence again for them so they can maybe go for a brand new job interview or head out and find a new relationship. That’s my main purpose, not just about how can I change things externally so you look better, that helps, but it’s more internal for me.

What’s great about the aesthetic industry is how we can improve ourselves by choice and not be forced into things if we don’t necessarily need to.

You work in a predominantly female industry, were people surprised when you decided on this as a career?

WF: When I started out it was unheard of for a boy to want to go into the industry. My peers would tell me to join the army or go into a different career, but I’ve always been brave and made courageous decisions and I knew this was what I wanted to do. I did worry that clients wouldn’t want to see a male therapist, however, that has never been the case and I’ve built a fantastic rapport with my clients, many of whom have been coming to see me for years.

And, you’ve recently become the only male therapist to be nominated for two prestigious awards, congratulations.

WF: I was nominated for the Aesthetic Therapist of the Year category in the 2023 Aesthetic Medicine Awards and Professional Beauty Awards and also the aesthetic medicine awards. I felt so honoured to be nominated and shortlisted for these awards. Particularly being the only male therapist to have ever been shortlisted. I’ve also been nominated for an International Safety in Beauty award for Best Aesthetic UK Therapist, which I’m thrilled about.

After spending a few years away from Burnley, you’ve now moved back. Are you proud of your roots?

WF: 100% - I feel that I’m two people. There’s Billy from Burnley, and then there’s - William, who’s the highly successful, ambitious guy. But I could never do what I do now without that boy from Burnley who created that courage, that bravery and that determination.

I remember when I was younger, I always thought I need to get out of town, I need to get out of Burnley. But Burnley offers so much more than what it had back then. You know, the fashion, the industrial estates, the universities that it has now where people come to study medicine and dentistry.

Burnley is really growing and I’m really proud of that. Ten years ago when I started in the industry, I shied away from saying I was from Burnley. I always used to say I was from Lancashire. Now I’m so proud to come from Burnley and I really want to inspire the people that are coming into the world of beauty, or any industry. And I’m here to say it’s a great town.


From following you on Instagram, your job looks very glamorous; is it as exciting as it looks?

WF: Where I work we have international patients landing on helipads at the clinic, it’s all very glitz and glam and I work with a lot of celebrities, including some very well-known actors. I’ve built some really strong bonds with lots of my clients and we’ve forged friendships away from work.

The actress Sue Cleaver is one of your clients and close friends. She was certainly a good ambassador for your skin treatments when she appeared on I’m a Celebrity in 2022 – she looked fantastic!

WF: She really did! I think Sue was a fantastic advocate for the importance of good skin care. Seeing her look so amazing in the camp, with no make up on made me really proud. She’s fantastic.

For those of us who can’t make it to your Alderley Edge clinic, is there anything we can be doing at home to improve our skin?

WF: Definitely. I take a holistic approach with all my clients so one of the key things we will look at is nutrition. Can you eat more whole foods and reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet?

And of course, staying hydrated plays a big part too, drink plenty of water. Getting enough sleep is also key, as it’s the time when our bodies recover, and skin rejuvenates. I’m also a great believer in being mindful and getting out in nature. Taking care of your mental health can really impact how you look externally.

Your love of being out in nature is one of the reasons you moved back to Burnley, isn’t it?

WF: For sure, in Burnley we are so lucky to be surrounded by so much open space. I love walking my dog around Towneley Park or heading up into the hills around Hurstwood or walking to the Singing Ringing Tree. I’m so lucky to be back in the place I grew up, surrounded by friends and family.

And if people do decide to go to a clinic for a skin care treatment, what should they consider?

WF: You know, we have so many great like things on the market now, like non-invasive skin tightening and micro needling all these brilliant things that can

really help but in a more natural way. I recommend that people do their research and educate themselves before heading in for any procedure whether that be beauty or aesthetic. Look for practitioners that are highly qualified and fully insured. Ask to see before and after photographs and look out for testimonials. The most important thing is to never feel the pressure to go ahead straight away.

So far 2023 has proven to be a great year for you, what’s next?

WF: I’ve had a taste of working on television so that’s something I’d love to do more of. I’m very passionate about helping people feel better from the inside out so working on a television show giving people makeovers would be perfect for me.

Thanks William, we’re sure we’ll see you popping up on our screens soon! You can find William on Instagram: @william_foley_



on your doorstep

Looking for a gift but don’t know where to start? You don’t need to travel far to find unique presents that will be sure to impress. Alisha Panners has scoured the independent shops of Burnley and Padiham, here are some of her favourite finds…


Pendleside Hospice

The limited edition Pendleside Hospice 35th anniversary pin badge can be picked up from any of the Pendleside Hospice retail shops. A list of the shops can be found at pendleside.org.uk/charity-shops

Curious Cat

Procurers of the alternative, specialising in crystals, jewellery, fashion and so much more. Burnley Market Hall, Curzon St, Burnley BB11 1BB


Astonishing Sounds

No matter your taste in music, from the country stars to the metal heads, you’ll be astonished by the records they have. 3 Hall Street, Burnley BB11 1QJ

Rock & Roll Sweets

This amazing Burnley-based business is mixing sugary treats and your favourite music, from their vegan Mercury Mega Mix to the classic Rolling Stones Retro. Buy online at rocknrollsweets.co.uk or catch them the first Saturday of every month in the town centre at the Artisan Market.



Glass Monkey Studio

Whether you’re buying for a collector of art or someone who just wants to try something new, Glass Monkey has a gallery and workshop where you can buy exceptional glass works or give a voucher for them to make something themselves. Unit 1 Oakmount Mill, Wiseman Street, BB11 1RU glassmonkeystudio.co.uk

Timeless Fragrances

Whoever you are buying for there’s sure to be a fragrance they will love here. Products include hand-poured soy wax melts, home fragrance and bath and body products. 41 Hammerton St, Burnley. timelessfragrance.co.uk

Pure Massage

From bath bombs to massage oils; Pure Massage is perfect for someone in need of pampering.

Burnley Market Hall, Curzon St, BB11 1BB


Batch Distillery

Fans of gin will love the Batch Innovation club. A subscription service where each month they will receive a new handcrafted gin and collectable cocktail recipe card. When buying as a gift you can choose a 6 or 12-month subscription. Order online at: batchdistillery.co.uk



So Floral

River of Life Craft and Coffee Hub

Near the bus station you’ll find this little cafe and shop selling handmade, bespoke, and personalised t-shirts, tutu dresses, bows and more.

16-18 Red Lion St, Burnley

Flowers can mark any and every occasion, but So Floral is more than your regular florist, they also sell handmade and creative gifts including cards, wreaths and knitted creations.

28 Burnley Rd, Padiham, Burnley BB12 8EU

Artisan Market

Every first Saturday of the month, Independent Street hosts an Artisan Market in Burnley town centre. With a range of traders covering everything from food to fashion, and a whole host in between, there’s something for everyone. independentstreetevents.co.uk



Do you have a gamer in your life?

This tabletop Warhammer shop has everything from models to paints, dice and so much more. Warzone is the zone to be in. Brown St, Burnley


Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

Gawthorpe Textiles Collection’s amazing gifts are perfect for history lovers. From kitchen wear to home décor and craft activities. Order your gifts online at: gawthorpetextiles.org.uk or pop down to Gawthorpe Hall where they have a small selection on display.

This is just a selection of the wonderful independent stores in our borough. Opening days and times vary so be sure to check them out on the businesses’ websites/social media before visiting.


WHAT’S ON Mechanics theatre

September 2023

90s Live

Friday 8th September

Tickets from £28

Tom Stade: Natural Born Killer

Saturday 16th September

Tickets from £20.50

Manford’s Comedy Club

Friday 29th September

Tickets from £14

Bad Manners

Saturday 30th September

Tickets from £29

October 2023

Thereza Bazar’s Dollar

Wednesday 4th October

Tickets from £32

The Wizard of Oz Ballet

Sunday 15th October

Tickets from £13.50

Slay Queenz

Wednesday 18th October

Tickets from £32

The Upbeat Beatles

Saturday 28th October

Tickets from £25

November 2023

Ben Hart: Jadoo

Wednesday 1st November

Tickets from £17

Young Frankenstein

Saturday 11th –

Saturday 18th November

Tickets from £22

Maggie May

The Rod Stewart Years

Friday 24th November

Tickets from £28.50

Francis Rossi – Tunes & Chat

Saturday 25th November

Tickets from £31.50

January 2024


Friday 12th – Sunday 21st January

Tickets from £12

Find Out More Scan for more information and to see all upcoming
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BURNLEY MECHANICS THEATRE PRESENTS NEW FOR DECEMBER 2023 CARIBBEAN PARTY NIGHTS! DRESS TO IMPRESS FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A HOLIDAY FOR TWO TO THE CARIBBEAN! blcgroup.co.uk Tel: 01282 664444 Enquire now by emailing: burnleymechanics@blcgroup.co.uk Friday 1st December Saturday 2nd December Friday 8th December LIMITED AVAILABILITY Saturday 9th December SOLD OUT Friday 15th December Saturday 16th December LIMITED AVAILABILITY Friday 22nd December Christmas blcgroup.co.uk Tel: 01282 664444 01282 664400


Critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning Bertram’s Restaurant is a unique and modern adult-only restaurant located within the Crow Wood Resort. It’s set in 100 acres of countryside affording panoramic views courtesy of floor to ceiling windows. The food speaks for itself.


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