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ISSUE 33 SPRING 2011

BOROUGH

Students show the way in beating litterbugs  see page nine

THE MAGAZINE FOR ALL RESIDENTS OF WIGAN BOROUGH

Borough Life 1 ALT

Turned Out Nice Again! George is coming home  see page 21


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Borough Life welcomes your letters about local issues or comments about articles in the magazine. Write to: The Editor, Borough Life, FREEPOST NWW3502A, Wigan WN1 1XZ; Email: boroughlife@wigan.gov.uk (Letters may be edited).

Lessons learned in cold snap Sir, – I can hardly wait for the next issue of Borough Life after reading in the Winter issue that the borough was as ‘prepared as we possibly can be’. Yet the description of last winter’s problems fitted exactly what happened across the borough again this Christmas. “People were left housebound and there was a big impact on council services,” “bin lorries could not get down streets...”and “town centres were covered with a sheet of treacherous ice.” “We cannot prevent the bad weather from coming...” wrote our council leader, and I accept that but neither can I prevent the excuses and exemptions that will surely come in the next Borough Life. MJ Carr, Astley (snowed in for 4 weeks without dustbin collection). ■ Wigan Council’s Head of Safer, Cleaner, Greener Neighbourhoods, Sally Wolstencroft said: We appreciate that some residents suffered inconvenience as a result of the cold

Are more bins necessary? Sir, – I write in reply to the Issue No. 32 ideas on recycling budget, I feel a large saving could be made by single occupancy flats sharing bins, thus lessening the expense of buying large amounts of unneeded bins and saving time on collections. I use my own case as an example, there are two blocks of four flats, on two storeys with an open plan front garden, shared rear garden. When we were informed of recycling, i.e. Green Bins, Brown Bins, I discussed with my neighbours (all single occupants) and we agreed we all only needed one in each garden. If you go ahead with blue bins may I suggest you survey all the one bedroom flats like ours and reduce the amount delivered/bought. If the delivery men are as adamant as last time there could be a lot of small rear gardens across the borough with eight bins in them as opposed to the necessary four. Mr. T Owen, Leigh.

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BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

DIG THIS: Council staff hard at work clearing snow this Christmas.

weather but we believe we learned the lessons from the previous years and responded effectively. Our new salt barn meant that we were able to maintain supplies of grit throughout the period, where other local authority areas suffered after running out. We maintained the bin rounds for as long as we possibly could but I am sure all residents would appreciate the potential dangers of attempting to negotiate a 26 tonne bin lorry through residential areas that are thick with ice. When the lorries could not operate we established a network of sites across the borough where residents could bring their waste, some of which proved very popular. We maintained a black bin collection on

main roads throughout this time. Bin crews and other workers who could not fulfil their regular duties were reassigned to keep clear snow and ice from our busiest town centre areas. The gritting teams worked throughout the cold spell, all through the night to ensure the borough's major road network and public transport routes were treated. In our experience, the vast majority of residents responded positively to the problems the bad weather threw up, realised the physical limitations of what could be achieved and worked with us. Whilst not perfect, we believe the borough's response to the cold weather was a good one and we'd like to thank staff and residents for the hard work and support.

Let’s hear it for ‘unsung hero’

Bus pass privilege should reflect work Sir, – In response to bus passes in your Issue 32. I think the amount you pay for your bus pass should be based on what you have contributed during your working life. If you have contributed for 40 years, it should be free; if you have 20 years, it should be 50p and if you have 10 years, say £1. I am a person who has worked for everything I’ve got while bringing up family up. It was hard but now I’m enjoying my retirement, for which I’ve worked all my life. Mrs Brookes.

Sir, – Having just received and read the winter edition of Borough Life, I notice it is the season for handing out various awards to local citizens. May I suggest a little praise for the elderly gentleman who delivered my magazine in what were truly horrendous weather conditions – i.e. ice and snow. He surely took his life in his hands to do the job for which my neighbours and I are grateful. A word of thanks to this unsung hero would not be amiss. Perhaps you could identify him and let him know that his efforts are appreciated. E Rogden, Ashton in Makerfield.


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www.wigan.gov.uk

The

Leader Column

Building the future together

Spring 2011 This edition packed with news, plus...

By Peter Smith Leader, Wigan Council

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HE world of local government is a very different place today than it was a mere 12 months ago. In four years it will be virtually unrecognisable. Wigan Council has risen to the challenges set by the financial pressures we are facing caused by a massive reduction in government grants and has not shied away from taking the tough but necessary decisions that needed to be taken. And there will be more to follow. You can find out how the spending challenge has affected council budgets on page 8. Times are tough but the council and its partners are doing all they can to encourage the investment in our borough that will lead to new opportunities and jobs for local people. There are some great examples of ongoing regeneration work in our borough that is rapidly taking shape. Work has started on the Saddle Junction road improvement scheme; the redevelopment of the former Bickershaw Colliery Site is continuing apace; engineers have announced plans that will improve the lot of motorists at Leigh’s ‘Kamikaze’ roundabout and Wigan’s Life Centre will open this year. Yes, times may be tough but we won’t let that stop us from looking to the future positively and continuing to do the best for the communities we serve. PEOPLE in our borough have a long tradition of getting involved in their communities and helping to make life better. There may be some new names for it, but volunteering and community involvement are alive and well in our borough and have been so for some time. In the times we are facing it is reasonable to expect that we will all be asking more of the voluntary sector in the near future. On page 14, we feature dedicated individuals who have made a real difference to their local communities. On page nine we spotlight young people making the areas surrounding their schools free from litter. We must continue to encourage and celebrate volunteering to strengthen our borough’s community spirit.

IN these days of celebrity culture and TV talent shows, it may seem hard to believe that one man from Westminster Street in Wigan was at one time the biggest star in the country. George Formby enjoyed a level of adulation that many of today’s fame-hungry generation could only dream of. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the great man’s passing and the borough will be celebrating his legacy in style. The Formby Project, which begins later this month, will see events across the artistic spectrum all paying homage to ‘Our George’. But this will be no mere nostalgic look back because the creative minds behind the project will be attempting to bring George bang up to date and make his appeal relevant to the younger generation. Celebrating the past whilst looking to the future is an attitude we like to take in Wigan and I would urge everyone to find out more about the life and times of one of the borough’s favourite sons.

Protecting our kids from grooming 6&7

Exclusive: a look inside the Life Centre

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Poignant journal tells war story

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Travellers’ tales shatter myths

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CONTENTS

Borough Life 3

COVER PICTURE Artist Ken Barrett is bringing the spirit of George Formby back to Wigan with this stunning mural at the Museum of Wigan Life. Full story page 21.

Borough Life is published by Wigan Council and distributed to all households in the borough. This edition was published on 5 March 2011. Distribution should be complete by 25 March 2011.

The Editor Borough Life, FREEPOST NWW3502A, Wigan WN1 1XZ. Tel: 01942 827823 Email: boroughlife@wigan.gov.uk

The magazine is printed on paper from renewable resources. It is written and edited by Wigan Council’s Media and Communications team, designed by Smith Davis Press and printed by PCP.

If you are a resident of Wigan Borough but haven’t had a copy of Borough Life delivered through your letterbox, please let us know. Copies of individual articles may be available in other languages on request. Large print and audio versions can also be provided. Please phone 01942 827823.

If you have any comments or feedback – or if would like to write a letter for publication – please contact:

BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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Green Light for Atherleigh Way Major revamp starts for ‘Kamikaze roundabout’ EIGH’S notorious ‘Kamikaze Roundabout’ is being removed this summer, as transport planners prepare to transform the A579 junction with the very latest computer controlled traffic lighting. Following extensive traffic flow modelling, the roundabout will be replaced by traffic signals which will improve vehicle movement and reduce the risk of conflict between drivers and pedestrians – the main cause of accidents on the busy junction. Councillor John O’Brien, local ward member and chair of the council’s environment scrutiny committee, said: “Change is definitely due. These improvements are ones which I know people in Leigh, as well as visitors, will welcome strongly. New technology means we can now make significant safety changes and ease some of the problems at the junction.” Changes to the Atherleigh Way will see a new link road to the Parsonage Retail Park south of Asda which will divert traffic away from the roundabout. This means that engineers can simplify the road layout and make the original access one way. As a result there will be no traffic from the retail park trying to join at the busy Atherleigh Way/Twist Lane junction.

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The latest intelligent, computer controlled traffic lights which adapt to the traffic flow will be linked to other junctions to ensure the efficient movement of traffic through the area. The scheme is being jointly financed by the North West Development Agency through the Bickershaw South scheme and the Brookhouse Group who own Parsonage Retail Park.

My Life My Choices

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New technology means we can now make significant safety changes and ease some of the problems at the junction.

Cllr David Molyneux, environment champion, said: “Leigh is seeing a wave of investment and improvements. There’s the employment area at Bickershaw South, and new leisure and retail on the old Barlo Radiator site. “New developments are planned at Leigh Sports Village, the Parsonage Retail Park is to be extended and there are plans for new businesses north of Leigh as well. “We’re making sure the road network is fit for all this important investment.”

Andy McNally, Evelyn Lythgoe and the Mayor of Wigan, Councillor Michael Winstanley at the My Life, My Choices launch event at Leigh Life Centre. Online lifeline: Looking for care and support? Need help getting out and about or advice on being a carer? Don’t worry – help is at hand. The council’s new online service ‘My Life, My Choices’ – www.wigan.gov.uk/mylifemychoic es offers up to date information about care and support services available for adults living in the borough. Including information from local organisations such as the council, health, housing and leisure partners, independent, community and voluntary

associations, My Life, My Choices signposts to a wealth of help and advice designed to support people who want to organise their own care package, those who organise health and care support on behalf of someone as well as social care, health and other professionals. If you haven't got a computer at home or need support to find information online check out your local library who provide free Internet access (for library members) as well as offering beginners IT courses. For more information go to: www.wlct.org\libraries.


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Rosie and Charlie get to grips with healthy eating at the award-winning Ince Children’s Centre with Cllr Paul Prescott and worker Amy Smith.

Local people urged to back charity WIGAN’S Mayor is urging the public to back a local charity supporting research into the causes, treatment and cures of cancer. Cllr Michael Winstanley backed the Wigan Cancer Research Fund – founded by a group of volunteers and the then Wigan Mayor Cllr Oliver Somers in 1958. The group has supported the appointment of a series of clinical research fellows investigating gynaecological cancer, led by specialists at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester. The funding means results in the lab have been transformed into benefits for patients. Councillor Winstanley said: “For many, cancer is a terrible, terminal and unspeakable fear – but because of the support of local people, some of the best research in the world is being carried out in the region, and it’s having real clinical success. “I would urge people to think locally if they are able to contribute – and donate through the Wigan Cancer Research Fund. For many years their kindness has funded results and changed lives.” To find out more, or to make a donation or even a legacy, contact the group via prw.northridge@btinternet.com

PUTTING HEALTHY EATING ON THE MENU...

Passion gives kids the

best start in life EET Rosie and Charlie... they’ve been busy making strawberry and banana smoothies with Amy their nursery teacher... and they love them. It’s just one example of the work being done at Ince Children’s Centre which has led it to become the latest recipient of Wigan Council’s Healthy Business Award. The cabinet’s lifestyle champion, Cllr Paul Prescott, joined the health-conscious tots to see how staff have made careful changes to the food on offer. Cllr Prescott met staff from ABC Childcare who work from the Children’s Centre in Higher Ince, as well as centre manager Nicola Cunningham, for a tour of the Charles Street site. Nicola told him: “Originally, parents would send in packed lunches, and some were not particularly nutritious. Now, we’re promoting healthy snacks and introducing high quality hot meals for the children. It’s been a rewarding journey to help parents make informed choices and give the children a good foundation in life.”

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Changes and choices

PARTNERS IN CARE: Mayor of Wigan Cllr Michael Winstanley with Professor Peter Stern from the charity.

Nicola told Cllr Prescott that in the past some children couldn’t recognise some of the common vegetables. That’s already changed, and this spring the nursery is set to gain an allotment so staff and children can really dig in with their own homegrown fruit and veg. The award, created in partnership with local health experts, is in recognition for changes and choices made in the food from cafes, restaurants as well as business canteens, schools and nurseries. Over 150 local businesses have now qualified. As well as access to training, they can get free advice on how to provide healthier menu options that

are lower in salt, sugar and fat and higher in nutrients. Cllr Prescott said: “There’s a real passion here to give the kids the best start in life. I’m impressed with the commitment of Nicola and her colleagues and I can see that the children appreciate it as well. Parents can be reassured that their children are being fed properly whilst here, and I’d urge customers to look out for the healthy business award as a guide to making their own choices about what’s on the menu.” Council health experts say that the award is about small changes to ingredients and cooking methods which can have a major cumulative result. They have provided staff at Ince with a list of recommended food cupboard items – a list of foods to always have in. The items vary from spices to low sugar-salt tinned items and items for savoury and sweet baking. Jennifer Cawley, healthy business advisor for nurseries, said: “Big health gains can be made by small adjustments to the choices of food we eat and how it is prepared. We don’t want people to stop enjoying their favourite foods, far from it – we’re just making it easier for them to eat healthier when they choose to do so.” Jennifer added: “If you are nursery, pre-school or even an after school club and you’re interested in taking part in the project then we’d love to hear from you. You could be leading the way to a healthy future for You can the borough’s children contact the team and developing a on 01942 48677 fantastic new menu.” or find out more at And the verdict from wigan.gov.uk/ Rosie and Charlie? healthy Clean plates and big businesses. smiles – result. BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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Borough all set for election special LOCAL council elections will take place on Thursday 5 May. This year, as well as elections in all wards of the borough there will be parish council elections in Shevington and Haigh, and a referendum on the Alternative Vote system (AV). The referendum will be asking if people would prefer to keep the first passed the post method of selecting a candidate for parliamentary general elections or whether they want to change to the Alternative Vote system. The Electoral Commission will be issuing guidance to every home in the country during the coming weeks which will explain the system in greater detail. If you will be working away or on holiday and don’t want to miss your vote you can apply to vote by post, or you can appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.

Deadlines New postal vote applications must reach the elections office by – 5pm Thursday 14 April (if you wish to change an existing postal or proxy this same deadline applies). Postal votes are usually issued between 7–10 days before the date of election. If you will not be at home to receive it then you should consider appointing a proxy instead. New proxy applications must reach the elections office by 5pm Thursday 21 April. If you have recently moved house you should check that you are registered on the Electoral Register at your new address. Applications to be included on the register must be submitted by 5pm on 14 April to be eligible to vote at elections on 5 May 2011. More information and all forms are available on our website: www.wigan.gov.uk and search for ‘elections’. If you need any help or advice please call the elections helpline 01942 827168.

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EXPERTS JOIN FORCES TO PROTECT VULNERABLE Y

A shield

keeps children safe from risk of grooming T can take many forms and often goes undetected... a ‘hidden’ crime, spoken about only in whispers and one that has the potential to leave a young life devastated. However, in recent months child sexual exploitation has come into sharp focus nationally with reports of high-profile cases in Derby and Rochdale. Both cases revolve around a familiar pattern of insecure and vulnerable young girls being ‘groomed’ for exploitation by groups of men. Experts admit that young victims often think they are in a “relationship” or are too afraid or ashamed to come forward. Cases such as this may represent the tip of the iceberg. Sadly Wigan Borough is not immune from the scourge of child sexual exploitation. The borough has seen a 30 per

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cent increase in the crime over the past year. Now the council, by way of its Safeguarding Children Unit, and its partners in Greater Manchester Police, children’s charity Barnardo’s and the Brook Advisory Centre have got together to create a new ‘Shield’ to protect children from the misery and evil of sexual exploitation.

Task force The Shield team is a special task force charged with combating child sexual exploitation in our borough. Kath Vereycken co-ordinates the council’s role within the team. She said: “The average age that children are most vulnerable to sexual exploitation is between 13 and 15. Often it stems from the young person’s lack of confidence or insecurity. “Suddenly they find they

are getting attention from an older person. “At first this can seem positive, it can involve them being treated nicely being given gifts and made to feel special, but really the young person is being groomed.” The end result can see the young person being given “affection” drugs, alcohol and maybe even somewhere to live in return for sexual activity and even child prostitution. “In such cases the Shield team takes direct action to break the cycle of abuse,” said Kath. “We offer support to the victims and their families and we will also aim to prosecute those who commit acts of sexual exploitation against children.” Borough Life presents the account of one local victim of child sexual abuse and while Sophie may not be her real name, her story is:

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We offer support to the victims and their families and we will also aim to prosecute those who commit acts of sexual exploitation against children. Kath Vereycken – SHIELD TEAM CO-ORDINATOR


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E YOUNG PEOPLE FROM THE DANGERS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION Picture posed by model.

Sophie’s Story “I was finding it hard at school, pressure of picking my options for GCSEs and all the course work as well. I knew I was getting behind but I wasn’t bothered. At home my parents would tell me to ‘just focus on my work‘. It felt like they didn’t understand and I couldn’t speak to them. It was getting me down and I hated it. My escape was going on the computer and chatting with my friends. One night I logged on to the computer and this really nice looking older boy had sent me a friend request. I accepted straight away, he said he was 21 and for the next week we chatted and sent each other private messages. We had a lot in common and I told him all about my problems at school and with my parents. He was really nice and said he would help. “We swapped mobile numbers and arranged to meet up. He had a car and said he would take me out to lunch. “We decided that I was going to tell my parents that I was meeting up with my mates.

“We got on really well and he would collect me from school or home and we would go to his mate’s house and just chill. I could have anything I wanted. “He’d buy me cigarettes and make sure I had credit on my phone. Sometimes he would offer me alcohol or drugs.” Sophie admits she would stay out all night to make her parents worried. But one day when he picked her up from school things were different. “He took me to a house and after offering me some alcohol he told me he wanted me to have sex with his friends. I didn’t want to, I was frightened, I thought he cared for me.” Sophie went through with it but afterwards she was wracked with fear and guilt. She wanted to tell someone but didn't feel she could talk to her parents. She finally confided in the school nurse who listened and told her about the SHIELD team. “Sophie’s experience is typical of the cases we face,” said Kath Vereycken. “Sophie was allocated a

Barnado’s worker who helped her to realise she was being sexually exploited by this man.” Sophie said: “I realise now I was being groomed by this man and I was putting myself at risk. I have done a lot of work around how to keep yourself safe on the internet and how to report this type of abuse.” “I’m now back on track at school,” Sophie added. “And I’m getting on better with my parents. I’m not running away and I am happier with life.” Wigan Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People, Cllr Susan Loudon, said: “Far too often this inexcusable crime goes undetected and the sexual exploitation of children continues. “We need to send a message that there is no room in a civilised society for this type of abhorrent behaviour and it certainly will not be tolerated in Wigan Borough. “This sort of crime does not happen very often in Wigan, but even once is too many. This inexcusable crime can go undetected and if it does, the sexual exploitation of children will continue.”

Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can talk directly to the Shield team on 0161 856 5312 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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We need to send a message that there is no room in a civilised society for this type of abhorrent behaviour and it certainly will not be tolerated in Wigan. Cllr Susan Loudon, WIGAN COUNCIL’S CABINET MEMBER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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TWELVE months ago, Sam Houghton went along to an amateur boxing class as part of a youth project. Just one year later and she’s teaching the thing! Seventeen year old Sam is now training to become a qualified coach at Wigan Amateur Boxing Club on Wigan Road, Landgate. Sam, from Marsh Green, said: “It’s dead enjoyable to get involved here and everyone is really friendly – they look out for you as soon as you join.”

Sam originally found herself at the club following her involvement with the X-Zones – a project led by Wigan Council’s Youth Service teams aimed at providing positive activities for young people on Friday and Saturday evenings. For more information on Wigan Amateur Boxing Club call 01942 207347. For more information on the X-Zones project led by Wigan Council’s Youth Service call 01942 486256.

Councillors budget for

tough times ahead OUNCIL leaders have warned of further significant pressures on spending and services that local people need and value because of funding cuts from central government. They have already set a budget to make £20million worth of reductions to meet government requirements for this year. However the authority has also made £28million worth of savings in anticipation of challenging times, meaning the authority total budget has decreased by £48million this year. Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith said: “In Wigan we responded very quickly to the emerging problems of the recession and the cuts to council funding. “We decided early in this process not to delay making the difficult decisions in the risk of merely storing them up for the years ahead. “As a result, the council is in a better financial situation going forward than other authorities but this does not mean we are over the worst. “The truth is that we have been forced

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to reduce spending this year by a total of £48million and it is clear that this is already beginning to have an affect. “The cuts in funding will affect services, incur job losses and mean we will not be able to deliver some of the important regeneration projects we had hoped to. “The cutbacks in funding will undoubtedly affect everyone in our borough. But at the start of this process we gave a commitment to protect those vital front line services that people in our borough rely on and we intended to continue to honour that.” Pressures facing the council include the ongoing impact on the credit crunch and the recession. There are also increasing pressures stemming from the borough’s ageing population and the support needs of individuals. The cost of the scrapped Building Schools for the Future Programme has been assessed as £3.3million worth of taxpayers’ money. The council’s package of financial

support for the job evaluation process has been assessed as more than £13million. Lord Smith added: “We are looking at ways we can combine with other organisations to deliver services more effectively and how we can work more closely with our communities to deliver savings but we need to accept that this process will mean more sacrifices. “I am certain that by working together we can do our best to mitigate the ongoing impact and continue to do our very best for the people of our borough.” ● As Borough Life was going to press, Wigan’s Council Tax bill looked set to be frozen for the year ahead. This has been made possible by a one-off payment from the government that effectively offsets any potential increase. The payment is worth £2.8million to the borough. The band D rate council tax for the borough this year is likely to be £1,368.66 – the same as last year.


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Litter...look look out! EET Wigan Borough’s very own ‘Litterati’! They’re young, talented and committed to tackling the ever-present problem of litter. It’s all part of a borough-wide campaign that looks at litter on the route to school. The council’s Neighbourhoods team has teamed up with the borough’s town centre managers, local communities and of course, secondary school pupils to help improve cleanliness. The young people have been looking at the types of litter found in and around their schools, where it comes from and who’s throwing it. The kids have also been speaking to families, shop owners and groups within their local community to find out how to get their hard-hitting anti-litter message over. Schools have already adopted fun and innovative ways of spreading the word. Some have designed t-shirts, others are producing posters and other publicity material. Importantly the pupils will be taking direct action with regular litter-picks around the school grounds.

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Changes and choices Borough Life went to the launch of the anti-litter campaign at The Byrchall High School and found the young people were up for the challenge. Josh Emerson, 13, from the school’s Eco Committee said: “It’s really important that young people get involved in caring for the environment because we all want to make the borough a greener place.” Whilst Eco-Committee colleague Andrew Steele, 16, added: “It’s really good that young people are leading the way on this campaign. We would really like the adults to take notice of what we’re doing and hopefully join in.” Rebecca Hill is Wigan Council’s Eco-Schools Co-ordinator and she’s full of praise for the young people’s actions. “Very often people blame litter on our streets on young people and we wanted to show through the campaign that young people are as passionate about keeping their environment clean as the rest of us,” said Rebecca. “We are hoping that the links schools have made with the wider community can be maintained so that the improvements may continue.” The school which runs the best eco campaign will win a prize but with a cleaner borough it’s clear that we all win. Wigan’s Environment champion Cllr David Molyneux said: “Wigan Borough has been getting cleaner and cleaner over the past few years and we are determined to keep improving the situation. It is really reassuring to know that children feel passionately about this and we’re going to be doing all we can to support them.”

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We would really like the adults to take notice of what we’re doing and then hopefully join in... BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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FINDING the right education, training, employment or volunteering option can be an ordeal. But choosing the career path that’s right for you really could be just a click away thanks to Wigan Council’s ‘Way to Work’ website: www.way-to-work.co.uk It offers support and guidance to all sorts of people who, for one reason or another, might have been out of work for some time. And, it really works. Borough Life talked to two local people who have found their Way to Work to find out more…

Carol’s future is now

crystal clear HEN doctors delivered the bombshell, bus driver Carol Clayton knew life would never be the same again. Carol, who hails from Leigh, was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), a devastating disease which attacks the central nervous system: her body’s ‘communication network’. The job she loved, with a local bus company, was over; her outlook uncertain. “My confidence was hit hard,” admitted Carol, “but equally I was relieved to finally know what was happening to my body and determined not to let my illness get the best of me.” Carol focused solely on raising her two young daughters and slowly trying to come to terms with her

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condition. During those 10 years Carol remained positive and resolute, Carol’s breakthrough came last Spring when a chance conversation at the Benefits Agency led to a referral to Work Solutions, a local organisation which helps people improve their skills and get back into work. Carol’s unique talent for making Swarovski crystal bouquets was identified as a potential business opportunity. Another local company, Blue Orchid, which specialises in one-to-one support for people looking to start up their own business, helped her to develop a business plan. With a further £1,000 grant from Wigan Council, Carol was on her way – and she’s never looked back. Since last August,

her bouquet business has attracted several large bookings from well-established national bridal companies. “Without the support and encouragement that I’ve received I do not think I would have taken any steps to set up my own business,” Carol explained. “The grant has allowed me to purchase crystals, complete my website and fund my exhibition stands at wedding fairs.

“I have also secured a stand at the Tatton Park Wedding Fair in January 2011. I can’t wait! “Even with a disability life goes on, there is help and advice out there for everyone. I would advise To view anyone who Carol’s creations has a passion visit www.crystalin life to get weddingout there and bouquets follow their .co.uk dreams.”

Way-to-Work solutions are ‘Taylor made’ TAYLOR Parkinson has a passion for cooking – and a disability that for too long prevented employers from spotting his potential. After three long years on incapacity benefit, Taylor went along to Leigh-based Work Solutions, who aim to improve skills and secure employment for local people. They helped Taylor develop a personalised action plan, including clear job goals and worked on building his confidence. “I told them about my ambition to open a cafe in Leigh town centre,” Taylor explained “and they put me in touch with Blue Orchid, which provides business advice services for people looking to start up their own business.”

Chris Halliwell, business advisor at Blue Orchid helped Taylor develop a business plan and together they found premises in Leigh. Since the grand opening, business has grown gradually, and Taylor also now caters for outside parties and other celebrations. “Blue Orchid and Wigan Council have helped turn my life around” exclaimed Taylor. “I wake up every morning and I feel like I have a purpose. I would urge anyone who needs help to be proactive about it and get in touch.” Taylor’s Coffee House is on King Street, Leigh and is open now.

For details about employment, education, training and volunteering services visit www.way-to-work.co.uk 10

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A LOOK INSIDE

Life WELCOME to your first, exclusive look inside Wigan’s new Life Centre This year, the Wigan Life Centre will be open for business. And what business! Two swimming pools, a gym, a dance studio with sprung floor, libraries, not to mention offices for local public services and a one-stop-shop for advice and information, right in the heart of town. It will mark the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work by the council and its partners to bring the dream of revitalising Wigan’s civic heart, using hard-won private finance funding and delivering the kind of joined up services people now demand. Cllr Chris Ready, who leads on customer care issues in the council’s cabinet, has been on site several times during construction.“It’s really coming together now,” he says, “Residents are in for a treat with a facility to be proud of, offering state of the art recreational facilities as well as accessible public services.” There are two parts to the site – either side of Wigan town

The new pool under construction.

hall, the pool, gym and offices are at the bottom of the hill and the library at the top. Cllr Ready was impressed by the facilities for less abled customers. There are large toilet rooms, with fully adjustable sinks for the most severely disabled pool users, as well as dedicated changing facilities for families, for school children and others. “Local Life Centres – in Leigh, Marsh Green, Atherton, Platt Bridge and Ince – are proving popular and very successful,” adds Cllr Ready. “And with the Wigan Life Centre just months away from completion, the public will have access to one of the most ambitious council projects ever undertaken in the UK, delivering services they need and facilities they want.” Building projects in Leigh continue apace in the wake the massive Leigh Sports Village, hotel and college complex, with work beginning on the much anticipated cinema, shopping and restaurant site in the centre of town this spring.

BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE: Cllr Chris Ready is shown round the Wigan Life Centre by project manager Carl Taylor.

Night Life. BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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Get into the

Zone IGHT at the heart of the community of Platt Bridge lies a distinctive looking building. Seen from the window of a passing train hurtling into Wigan you’d probably think it was the offices of some aspiring local business. And in essence, you’d be right. The Platt Bridge Community Zone, on Ribble Road, is a great example of how the community and the council can work together to improve the lives of local people and provide exciting activities. It started out life in 1999 as the Platt Bridge Youth Zone – a ‘one stop shop’ for young people. By 2004 it became obvious that the centre could offer something for everyone in the local area and hence the Community Zone was born. And now the Zone is rapidly becoming the borough’s latest business ‘hub’. The Zone has championed the cause of entrepreneurial local people by providing ‘business incubator units’ – that allow those with a great idea the chance to grow. It also provides business support facilities for training and meetings and even a ‘virtual office’ facility. The venue has a meeting room, ICT suite and conference facilities all for

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hire. It’s creating jobs, opportunities and most importantly, hope. David Baxter, who manages the centre for the council, explained: “The aim was to provide the borough with a venue to learn new skills, take part in hobbies and to assist in supporting business enterprise opportunities through offices and training facilities. “It really captured people’s imaginations and the local community took the building as its own. People who live locally are involved with all aspects of life at the Community Zone. They work here, they play here, they even help to run the place.” So what’s on offer at Platt Bridge Community Zone? There’s a private nursery providing the best in childcare; an Art Zone with a regular weekly painting class; The Youth Matters club providing young people between the ages of eight and 16 with plenty to do. Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for

It worked for me! MARTIN Davies first came to Platt Bridge Community Zone in 2003 as part of a placement with Training Network. Within a couple of months Martin gained employment with Embrace as their job share admin assistant and then within a couple of years became their Systems Manager, managing network and computer issues, as well as developing and designing all marketing materials and website. Martin then took this role on further in 2008 by setting up his own enterprise, Chameleon Design. Dawn Smalley is a 30 year old mother of 2 who lives in Platt Bridge. She first visited the centre in 2005 to attend Skills for Life course held at the Community Zone through Wigan and Leigh College. This helped Dawn to develop the skills to become a volunteer teacher at

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Platt Bridge Community School. Dawn also was able to use the centre for childcare. In 2008, Dawn commenced a work placement at the Community Zone as part of a Wigan and Leigh College course. Then in 2009, Dawn set up her own enterprise named Youth Matters, designed to allow children a place to undertake activities and learn skills as well as allow parents a chance to attend courses to develop new skills. In September 2009 Dawn won the Volunteer of the Year award as part of an awards night run by Wigan Council Youth Voluntary Service. Maurice Walsh came to the Community Zone in 2009 through Work Solutions. After a few months, he got a job as the building’s caretaker.

the Economy and the Environment, Cllr David Molyneux, said: “The Zone is a fantastic example of the kind of thing a community can achieve with a nod in the right direction and a bit of support. “Over the years more than 50 local people have been involved in the running of centre and many more have got so much from what the zone has to offer. “It’s seen people go on to take up education and employment opportunities and enjoy a new lease of life. “In today’s climate where we want to work closely with To find out local people to more about help them opportunities at Platt provide more Bridge Community Zone, for their visit wigan.gov.uk and communities, search for ‘Platt Bridge we have a Community Zone’ or model for give the team success right at a call on 01942 the heart of our 828986. borough.”


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f o e u g In a Lea n w o r i e h t

KNOCKOUT SOCCER! Top boxer Courtney Fry shows one young footie fan how it’s done.

IGAN Borough’s very own ‘premier league’ is back with a bang! The Community Football Leagues for young people are back for 2011 and are more popular than ever. More than 350 young people have been taking part in the five-a-side leagues each Friday evening since January, and that’s doesn’t include the host of young spectators who turn up to see a good game of football each week. The leagues are run by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Sport Development Unit at Robin Park Arena and Leigh Sports Village each week, but players come from all corners of the borough from Orrell and Tyldesley to Hindley and Ashton. Community Sports Development manager Chris Essex-Crosby said: “This is the biggest ever year for the leagues. “There is now a huge number of young people who come along to the venues to engage in positive activities ever single Friday. “The project has been a real team effort from a lot of different partners from the beginning, but we should also remember the young people who have had the commitment to turn up every week and show a good team spirit between them.” The leagues were set up to provide

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Action from the Community Football League.

positive activities for young people on Friday evenings and to combat antisocial behaviour. Now in its fourth year, the games are attracting some special guests with Commonwealth Gold boxer Courtney Fry coming along to support and mentor the young people this season. Courtney’s visits are part of a Sporting Champions mentoring programme set up by Sport England to use world class athletes to inspire young people about sport. He said: “I have been doing sports mentoring since I qualified for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. For me it is

about giving something back and helping other young people to be passionate about sport. “I have found the young people in Wigan and Leigh are extremely friendly, fit and love their sports. “The young people are so chilled out and welcoming. There are really good kids here in Wigan Borough and there is a lot of talent that should be harnessed.” The leagues are supported by a host of different agencies including Wigan Council’s Youth Service, the fire service, Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors and the Lancashire Football Association. Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Brian Baldwin, said: “Few things bring young people together like a really good game of football and it’s great to see that the community leagues are back and are as popular as ever. “Activities such as this not only keep young people occupied but they keep them active, For more fit, healthy and make information on the them appreciate Community Football the value of Leagues go to competitive sport. wlct.org/community In Wigan Borough football or call WLCT’s we’re positive Sports Development about young people Unit on 01942 and passionate 404982. about sport. What a winning combination!”

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Need to preserve habitat treasure?

Volunteer Ken’s there in a flash

In his favourite spot, Ken Atherton takes in the beauty of Pennington Flash.

THE Austin Metro hit the roads, the sixpence was withdrawn as legal tender and Margaret Thatcher told the nation that she was ‘not for turning’ 1980 was memorable for many reasons. For Ken Atherton it was the year he decided to sign on as a volunteer at arguably the borough’s most popular visitors’ spot Pennington Flash. And 30 years on… he’s still going strong. The 71 year-old former driving instructor can be found helping out at the Flash throughout the year, in all weathers and doing all kinds of jobs. From New Year’s Day to midsummer night and all points in between Ken’s there – he’s seen tiny saplings grow into the Flash’s impressive woodland and a generation of local people grow up loving the nature spot. “I’ve always loved the outdoor life and Pennington Flash was right on my doorstep,” said Ken. “I like everything about the place. “It’s great for bird-watching and other wildlife, the water is really popular and during the summer there’s always plenty going on.”

Over the year’s Ken has become a trusted member of the team at Pennington Flash and his duties have included everything from clearing litter to careful and skilled woodland management. Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Parks Officer Peter Alker, said: “We think Ken holds the honour of being our longest serving outdoor volunteer and we believe that the place has really benefited from him being around. “We have volunteers for all sorts of reasons here at the Flash, some go on to get jobs with the parks service, others go off to university to study. “We’re really proud of them all but people like Ken are quite rare and there’s no doubt that the management of the park is made easier because of what he does.” Although Ken volunteers just one morning a week, you’ll often find him in his favourite spot most days. He admits he can’t keep away from the place. And there’s no chance of him slowing down either. “Volunteering here has really given me a new lease of life,” he said. “So as long as I’m needed and I can keep going, I’ll be here!”

Sessions show helping children is as easy as ABC “YOU’RE always volunteering for things, so I thought you’d enjoy this.” Little did Hawkley Hall local Elaine Jones realise at the time that these words would be the start of a journey. A journey that would see her helping children discover the joys of reading and see their school achievement soar. Elaine had received some information about national charity Volunteer Reading Help from her daughter Susan. After training, Elaine was placed at St James’ CE Junior and Infants School, just round the corner from where she lives. She has now become a familiar face at the school and visits twice a week to give the children a little bit of extra help. “It takes a bit of patience and lot of smiles but it is really worthwhile,” said Elaine. “To see children who had little interest in reading not only improve but actually decide to read in their own time for pleasure gives me a fantastic sense of achievement.” Recent examples have seen Elaine coach

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some of her young charges to increase their reading age by two years in the space of just six months. Volunteer Reading Help has been helping primary school pupils across the country to improve their reading skills for nearly 40 years now. In Wigan, under the West Pennine Branch, currently nine schools are involved but Emma Mitson, who is the charity’s Volunteer Services Manager, wants a volunteer in every school in the borough. Pauline Rowley who is the head at St James’ is obviously a big fan. “Once a child gets that light switched on, there really is no stopping them,” she said. “It’s been a real success in our school and it’s all down to people like Elaine who have given up their time to help.” ● For more information about how to get involved with Volunteer Reading Help you can contact Emma Mitson on 0845 4500335 or 01204 532421. You can also visit the national website: www.vrh.org.uk

SUCCESS STORY: Elaine Jones (centre) is ready to read with (left) headteacher Pauline Rowley, Callum, aged 11 and (right) Emma Mitson, Courtney, 11 and Britney, 10.


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Saddle up! NE of the borough’s busiest This initial work will see Victoria junctions is being improved this Street made one-way westbound for part spring as part of a major of the works and cycling and pedestrian renovation scheme to parts of Wigan facilities are being upgraded too. town centre. Cllr Molyneux acknowledges that, in Phase one of the ‘Wigan South the short term, it’s likely that there will Central Gateway’ began last month as be some delays but hopes signage and Wigan Council and partners begin information updates online will help to improvements to Saddle Junction in keep drivers informed: “Any short term Newtown. disruption caused by the construction The first stage of the work is to will be offset by long term gains,” he improve vehicle capacity on Ormskirk said. Road, Victoria Street and Warrington “I think most people understand this Road, with major amendments aimed at because they want to see the town’s long cutting congestion and improving traffic term future secured. The viability of our flow. Later this year, work will start on a town is essential, and the Wigan South brand new road out of town to Saddle to Central Gateway is a catalyst for the ease the ‘pinch point’ of the narrow continued regeneration of Wigan.” railway bridge. In the longer term, a new carriageway Deputy council leader and is planned to ease traffic flow in and out regeneration champion, Cllr David of town. It will run from Pottery Road Molyneux, said: “I am delighted that along the side of the River Douglas, improvements to Saddle Junction are under Adam Viaduct and link into the beginning at last. The bottleneck is a Saddle Junction. real issue for many road users and it is The Wallgate route into Wigan, under also blocking further investment in our the existing railway bridge, will be borough.” altered and improved to give two traffic Liverpool construction firm, Dowhigh, lanes toward the town centre. won the tender, and United Utilities and Much of this work is ‘off-line’, away BT are also closely involved with major from existing traffic routes, so engineers cabling diversions. This part of the anticipate it can be carried out with scheme is expected to last 16 weeks and minimal disruption to traffic flows. road users will be kept up to date Work also is planned soon for the with information on large regeneration of Wallgate, with display signs which will be Heritage Lottery Funding. For regular placed at appropriate This construction and updates on this and advance distance on the improvements to existing other construction approaching roads. The infrastructure will and regeneration project has been funded by improve access to projects across the the council through development sites in the borough visit Wigan initiatives including the Wigan Pier Quarter and, Council’s website: Communities and Local it is anticipated, attract wigan.gov.uk Government’s Working new investment and Neighbourhoods Fund. business.

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On the road: Wigan Council Leader Lord Peter Smith and Deputy Leader Cllr David Molyneux welcome the start of the Saddle Junction improvement scheme with partners Steve MacFarlane from BT and Peter Allard from Dowhigh Ltd.

Annual report on child welfare AN independent body charged with looking after the welfare of children and young people in our borough has produced its first annual report. The document, produced by Wigan’s Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) is now available for everyone to view. The report is available at www.wiganlscb.com Copies will also be placed in your local library.

Priority issues set for licensing PREVENTING crime, public safety, cracking down on public and protecting children from harm… are principles that will guide Wigan Council’s officers and members when making decisions about licensing issues over the next three years. Members of the public can view the new Licensing Policy Statement online at Wigan Council’s website – ww.wigan.gov.uk under ‘Licensing Act 2003’.

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Poignant journal tells story of Wigan lads who gave all for their country

Pte Griffiths’ grand daughter Jean Busby, great grandson Simon Greenwood, and grandson Stuart Westhead.

GROWING SUCCESS: Making Pagett's Rose Garden picture perfect are service users and staff (back row) Park rangers Michelle Corsair and Brian Littler, Keith Nelson, Terry Mann and park ranger Andy Hopkins, (front row): Kaine Stewart, Damian Lisok, Anthony Baines, Sharon Shaw, Thomas Adedji, Gareth Edwards.

Pages from the war diary which vividly describe the terrible events of The Somme, and notice of Private Alfred Griffiths’ death.

Everything’s coming up roses in beautiful gardens

Notebook brings war history alive NE battle, more than any other, conjures an instant impression of the First World War… The Somme. On the first of July 1916, nearly two years into the conflict, British and French forces launched a massive offensive against the German army. The opening day alone brought nearly 60,000 British casualties; by November 1916 nearly 1.5 million casualties had been recorded by the forces involved and the British army had advanced only six miles to little tactical advantage. Into this maelstrom were thrown thousands upon thousands of men, one of whom was private soldier Alfred Griffiths, of Platt Bridge. Private Griffiths was an ordinary coal miner, who like hundreds of others, volunteered to serve. Like many of his comrades he had a young and large

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BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

Private Alfred Griffiths. family – 11 in total – but decided to join to fight for King and country. We know from newspaper sources that Pte Griffiths was injured at the Somme, later dying from his wounds in a military hospital in Brighton; his name appears on war memorials. For many men who fought, this is the extent of the historical record… but not always! Wigan’s Heritage Service has been given an extraordinary

glimpse into his life after his descendants donated his personal journal. Thanks to the kind donation of his great grandson Simon Greenwood from Aspull the notebook is now to be permanently cared for by the Wigan Archives Service, alongside other records that document the history of the borough and its people. Archivist Alex Miller explained the significance of the donation: “Although a short volume, we learn an extraordinary amount from the notebook. “Griffiths describes military campaigns and battles, lists the names and details of fellow soldiers, noting injuries or deaths, gives details of his kit and possessions, and on one of the final pages has written out a poem, A Lonely Sentry. “This is first hand evidence and of great importance in

forming our understanding of the war and the impact it had on ordinary soldiers. “Even to hold an object that perhaps was there at the battlefield is an immense privilege, and truly brings history alive.” Pte Griffiths, from the Second Border Regiment, was hit by shrapnel in the calf, knee and hand in July 1916. He underwent eight operations; firstly in France and then Brighton Military Hospital. Tragically his wife Emily was taking his new born daughter down to see him for the first time when he died of blood poisoning as she arrived at the hospital. He was 41 years old. His great grandson decided to donate the journal so future generations of

BIG-hearted volunteers are pitching in to make sure a Wigan floral feature looks its best when summer comes. Pagett’s Memorial Rose Garden in Mesnes Park is a hive of activity at present as a willing group of adults with learning disabilities are putting in the spadework to make it a ‘blooming’ winner. The group all use the council’s Adult Day Services in and around the town centre and the project will school children could learn from these first hand accounts Simon said: “I think for me the two most poignant parts of the journal is the slow repeat in the way he has written ‘killed, killed, killed’ next to the long list of friends he had joined up with. “His poem is also truly remarkable… when you consider his background. “Miners were lucky to be able to read and write but combine that with the conditions the soldiers were Pte Griffiths’ in, which journal is available were to view at Wigan horrendous, Archives Service, he must based at Leigh Town have been Hall. Call Alex Miller such an on 01942 404 incredibly 431. brave man.”

Great fun in the garden.

see them maintain and oversee the upkeep of the rose garden. Sharon Shaw from the council’s Day Services team said: “During the summer the group regularly visits Mesnes Park and we see it as an outdoor meeting room. “So the group decided that this would be a great way of giving something back.” The project is a partnership between the council and Wigan and Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the park, but it’s also had some high-profile help from one of the town’s premier companies. Wigan-based toolmaker Bulldog Tools has donated the spades, pitchforks and other gardening equipment the crew needs to do the job and keep Pagett’s Garden look in top shape. Terry Mann, who is the project coordinator said: “This is a great example of everyone joining forces to give something back and we’d really like to thank Bulldog Tools for their kind support. “Not only will it make sure the garden looks great, but it’s a great way for the guys to get out in the fresh air and learn some new skills. In the past schemes such as this have led to some of those involved going on to do courses and even get jobs in gardening as a result. “Of course the outcome for the public will be a great place for visitors to the park to walk around and relax in with beautiful and well-maintained surroundings.”

BOROUGH LIFE Winter 2010

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Poignant journal tells story of Wigan lads who gave all for their country

Pte Griffiths’ grand daughter Jean Busby, great grandson Simon Greenwood, and grandson Stuart Westhead.

GROWING SUCCESS: Making Pagett's Rose Garden picture perfect are service users and staff (back row) Park rangers Michelle Corsair and Brian Littler, Keith Nelson, Terry Mann and park ranger Andy Hopkins, (front row): Kaine Stewart, Damian Lisok, Anthony Baines, Sharon Shaw, Thomas Adedji, Gareth Edwards.

Pages from the war diary which vividly describe the terrible events of The Somme, and notice of Private Alfred Griffiths’ death.

Everything’s coming up roses in beautiful gardens

Notebook brings war history alive NE battle, more than any other, conjures an instant impression of the First World War… The Somme. On the first of July 1916, nearly two years into the conflict, British and French forces launched a massive offensive against the German army. The opening day alone brought nearly 60,000 British casualties; by November 1916 nearly 1.5 million casualties had been recorded by the forces involved and the British army had advanced only six miles to little tactical advantage. Into this maelstrom were thrown thousands upon thousands of men, one of whom was private soldier Alfred Griffiths, of Platt Bridge. Private Griffiths was an ordinary coal miner, who like hundreds of others, volunteered to serve. Like many of his comrades he had a young and large

O

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BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

Private Alfred Griffiths. family – 11 in total – but decided to join to fight for King and country. We know from newspaper sources that Pte Griffiths was injured at the Somme, later dying from his wounds in a military hospital in Brighton; his name appears on war memorials. For many men who fought, this is the extent of the historical record… but not always! Wigan’s Heritage Service has been given an extraordinary

glimpse into his life after his descendants donated his personal journal. Thanks to the kind donation of his great grandson Simon Greenwood from Aspull the notebook is now to be permanently cared for by the Wigan Archives Service, alongside other records that document the history of the borough and its people. Archivist Alex Miller explained the significance of the donation: “Although a short volume, we learn an extraordinary amount from the notebook. “Griffiths describes military campaigns and battles, lists the names and details of fellow soldiers, noting injuries or deaths, gives details of his kit and possessions, and on one of the final pages has written out a poem, A Lonely Sentry. “This is first hand evidence and of great importance in

forming our understanding of the war and the impact it had on ordinary soldiers. “Even to hold an object that perhaps was there at the battlefield is an immense privilege, and truly brings history alive.” Pte Griffiths, from the Second Border Regiment, was hit by shrapnel in the calf, knee and hand in July 1916. He underwent eight operations; firstly in France and then Brighton Military Hospital. Tragically his wife Emily was taking his new born daughter down to see him for the first time when he died of blood poisoning as she arrived at the hospital. He was 41 years old. His great grandson decided to donate the journal so future generations of

BIG-hearted volunteers are pitching in to make sure a Wigan floral feature looks its best when summer comes. Pagett’s Memorial Rose Garden in Mesnes Park is a hive of activity at present as a willing group of adults with learning disabilities are putting in the spadework to make it a ‘blooming’ winner. The group all use the council’s Adult Day Services in and around the town centre and the project will school children could learn from these first hand accounts Simon said: “I think for me the two most poignant parts of the journal is the slow repeat in the way he has written ‘killed, killed, killed’ next to the long list of friends he had joined up with. “His poem is also truly remarkable… when you consider his background. “Miners were lucky to be able to read and write but combine that with the conditions the soldiers were Pte Griffiths’ in, which journal is available were to view at Wigan horrendous, Archives Service, he must based at Leigh Town have been Hall. Call Alex Miller such an on 01942 404 incredibly 431. brave man.”

Great fun in the garden.

see them maintain and oversee the upkeep of the rose garden. Sharon Shaw from the council’s Day Services team said: “During the summer the group regularly visits Mesnes Park and we see it as an outdoor meeting room. “So the group decided that this would be a great way of giving something back.” The project is a partnership between the council and Wigan and Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the park, but it’s also had some high-profile help from one of the town’s premier companies. Wigan-based toolmaker Bulldog Tools has donated the spades, pitchforks and other gardening equipment the crew needs to do the job and keep Pagett’s Garden look in top shape. Terry Mann, who is the project coordinator said: “This is a great example of everyone joining forces to give something back and we’d really like to thank Bulldog Tools for their kind support. “Not only will it make sure the garden looks great, but it’s a great way for the guys to get out in the fresh air and learn some new skills. In the past schemes such as this have led to some of those involved going on to do courses and even get jobs in gardening as a result. “Of course the outcome for the public will be a great place for visitors to the park to walk around and relax in with beautiful and well-maintained surroundings.”

BOROUGH LIFE Winter 2010

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■■■■

NEWSROUND Blind Society takes centre-stage with a new home WIGAN Council has introduced a new Housing Allocations Policy which sets out who gets a council property. The policy was developed with tenants, Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing, and gives high priority to people leaving the Armed Forces in recognition of the services they provide to our country. Further changes to the policy mean that housing staff will link closely with the police to identify those people likely to cause antisocial behaviour. Wigan Council has around 23,000 properties, which are managed by Wigan and Leigh Housing. For more information visit Wigan and Leigh Housing’s website: www.walh.co.uk WIGAN Council children’s services officers have welcomed the latest assessment from government regulators Ofsted. Inspectors state Wigan is at level 3 and “performing well. “The very large majority of services are “good or better,” the report says. In national tests, the borough’s 11-year-olds achieve as well as their peers elsewhere, as do 16-year-olds taking GCSEs and the gap between most of them and those with special educational needs is closing. Absence rates have halved and the report noted that secondary school children’s behaviour was “good or outstanding.”

Be my light... be my guide F

OR nearly a century a small but dedicated group has been hard at work in Wigan Borough providing a little extra help to those who have no sight. The names and faces behind Wigan and Leigh District Society for the Blind may have changed many times over the years but the spirit of the organisation, founded in 1917, remains strong. The group provides help and advice to members of the blind community across our borough throughout the year – from regular social events and activities through to practical assistance with money matters and getting the right support. Anne Fairhurst, who is the society’s secretary, explains:

WIGAN’S Active Women project has been selected as a partner in a new national project aiming to get 30,000 women playing “doorstep sport”. Active Women, which will be delivered in 47 of the most disadvantaged areas in England including Hastings, Wigan and Bristol, will offer 16 to 25-year-old women innovative and engaging ways to participate in sport. COME and listen to the Ron Moore ‘Big Band’ at 8pm onwards every Wednesday evening at the Sacred Heart Club, Thorstlenest Avenue, Springfield. Leader, Ron Priestly who has worked with another local success Andy Prior, who incidentally was ‘Best Man’ at Ron’s wedding! Licensed bar and no charge for admission.

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Anne Fairhurst shows off the new resource centre on Scarisbrick Street, Wigan.

“For many blind people in our borough there are real issues about isolation and feeling trapped and alone so a lot of our work is about improving social contact. “We hold many regular events in different parts of the borough aimed as bringing blind people together in an atmosphere where they can enjoy each other’s company and support each other.” And now the help offered by the group is about to improve even further with the opening of the society’s new resource centre in Wigan. Based on Scarisbrick Street, the small, yet perfectly formed centre is a one-stop-shop for blind people. As well as people like Anne being on hand to help out, the centre offers visitors the unique option to ‘try before they buy’ when it comes to aids and equipment. Anne says: “With finances being very important it is better that people are allowed to try before they buy and avoid

buying the wrong item. “When it comes to items like ‘talking’ clocks and watches, sticks and other aids they can often be very expensive. The resource centre stocks demonstration models of lots of different items so the visitor can try them and make sure they are right for them before choosing to invest in them.” There are currently more than 360 people across our borough registered with the Wigan and Leigh District Blind Society, but Anne and her colleagues believe there could be many more who would benefit from their help. “It could be simply that people are not aware of us even though we have been around for quite some time,” says Anne. “We believe the new centre will help us to reach even more blind people in our borough and we look forward to welcoming them in.” The new Wigan and Leigh District Society for the Blind’s Resource Centre is at No 4 Scarisbrick Street, Wigan.

For more information you can call the society on 01942 242891 or email wiganleigh blind@hotmail. co.uk


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Olympic prospect agrees our new gym’s a winner

Jenny Meadows at the new Profiles Health and Fitness Suite holding one of the new digital fobs that will allow users to profile and track their exercises.

System tracks progress WIGAN’S newest gym is fit for a future Olympian! And if you don’t believe us, ask one. The borough’s very own track star and 2012 hopeful Jenny Meadows has given the new Profiles Health and Fitness Suite at Robin Park the official seal of approval. The new gym now boasts state-of-the-art equipment including the new Technogym ‘Wellness’ system which produces weekly, monthly and daily reports on users’ progress. The system also allows instructors to leave messages, updates and challenges for each member. Which is great news for Jenny as she prepares for next year’s games. The track star, hotly tipped for a medal at the London Olympics, is the third fastest ever British woman over 800m behind Kelly Holmes and Kirsty Wade. She said: “When I’m in training I spend a lot of my time in the gym so it is important that it’s a nice, relaxed and modern place to be. “The new gym at Robin Park is all this

and more!” But the new gym’s not just there for the sporting elite, anyone can get to grips with its fantastic new technology. For those who find the gym a slog, you can set challenges and watch as you run the streets of London or Paris on a visual map, play games, watch movies or listen to your own iPod through the system! Mike Lyons Commercial Manager for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the centre, said: “Jenny is a real

As part of the re-launch a range of special offers are available including Monthly Membership from only £20 a month and there’s no joining fee. For more information call 01942 828 550 or visit www.wlct.org/beyourself

inspiration and we’re delighted she has formally opened the new facilities. This new equipment really is top of the range surpassing anything we’ve had in the past. “We’re delighted with the new Profiles Health and Fitness suite and feedback from customers so far has been very positive.”

‘‘’’

When I’m in training I spend a lot of my time in the gym so it is important that it’s a nice, relaxed and modern place to be. BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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By George

Borough pays tribute to Formby on 50th anniversary of his death

IGAN will pay tribute to its most famous son this spring as the town marks 50 years since the death of George Formby. Born in humble surroundings in Westminster Street, Wigan, George went on to become a music hall and movie megastar as the biggest UK box office attraction during the 1930s and 40s. His cheeky Lancashire humour and folksy north of England persona made him a huge draw at the cinema and on stage. And more than 80 years since his comic songs, played out on his beloved ukulele, made him a household name, he’s still proving an inspiration. Events being planned include a special Formby seminar at the Queen’s Hall, Wigan, an hour of “Electric George” – with Formby inspired electro house music at Club Nirvana and a week dedicated to the star at the Museum of Wigan Life. The George Formby Society will also be performing some of his biggest hits at the museum. Sussex-based conceptual artist Ken Barrett has been working with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, Wigan Council and the George Formby Society to organise this special series of events. It follows his hugely successful Formby Project which ran in the Exchange Gallery, Penzance last year. The ‘Turned Out Nice Again’ installation featured a 12ft portrait mural of the singer and comedian painted during the show, artwork based on

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ELECTRIC GEORGE: how the banjolele legend might have looked at the Club Nirvana event taking place in his honour on April 1.

‘saucy postcard’ themes, people’s memories of Formby collected on cards, and extracts from his films. A new version of the project will be exhibited at the Museum of Wigan Life, Library Street following funding from the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. People will be encouraged to bring along their memories for incorporation into the exhibition. A 12 foot painting by

numbers portrait will be coloured in by the artist and local children and there will be the opportunity to add your own colour in portrait to the exhibition Ken said: “When you consider that a skilled man was earning £200 a year back in the 1930s and George Formby was earning more than £100,000 you begin to realise how big of a deal he was. His combination of slapstick, suggestive lyrics and good natured humour

Events taking place include: ● The George Formby Story: Multi-media show about the life and times of Wigan’s famous son, Museum of Wigan Life, Library Street, Thursday March 31. Starts 6.30pm. Tickets £2.50. ● George Formby Seminar: Queen’s Hall, Wigan. Friday April 1. Starts 9.30am until 4.30pm. Tickets £7 including lunch and refreshments. ● Formby for Everyone: Saturday April 2. A day dedicated to George Formby at the Museum of Wigan Life, Library Street including ukelele performance by the

George Formby Society, Formby artefacts on display, craft activities and mass portrait painting with Ken Barrett. Free ● Electric George: An hour of Formby inspired electro house music. Club Nirvana, Wigan. Friday April 1. Part of Club Nirvana night. Ticketed event see club for details. ● The George Formby Experience: The Museum of Wigan Life, including artefacts and exhibition, runs from Thursday 31 March until Tuesday 5 April. Free

made him a superstar. “What’s nice about using Formby as a piece of conceptual art is that people can relate to him. A lot of conceptual art is completely over people’s heads but this is accessible. “I wanted to find something that was accessible but still contemporary.” Following the death of his father in 1921, Formby abandoned his career as a jockey and followed his father’s career path in Music Hall. His unique and often mimicked musical style ensured he stood out from the rest and found fame with songs like “Leaning on a Lamp Post”, “On The Wigan Boat Express” and “The Left-Hand Side of Egypt”. But some of his comic songs, full of double entendre, were considered too rude for broadcasting. “With my little stick of Blackpool Rock” was banned by the BBC because of its lyrics. Film success followed and between 1934 and 1945 Formby was the top comedian in British comedy. In today’s money he would have been earning £4m a year at his peak. He passed away March 6, 1961 following a heart attack. Carole Tyldesley is head of Heritage Services for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust who manage the Museum of Wigan Life. She said: “George Formby is an integral part of our town’s heritage. His appeal has survived for more than 80 years and we’re delighted to honour his memory in this way.” Gerry Mawdsley is the President of the George Formby Society. He said: “George Formby was always proud of his roots in Wigan. Three months before he died a documentary called ‘The Friday Show’ summed up exactly how he felt about the town. In it George says ‘Every time I pass through Wigan I tip my hat and say thank you’. For further “I think information call that the Museum of speaks Wigan Life on volumes.” 01942 828 128.

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Tell us about

Your Life £50 worth of shopping vouchers up for grabs BOROUGH Life is your magazine and you can help make it better. Tell us what you think of it and you could win a high street shopping spree! The magazine is delivered to every household in the borough four times a year and provides readers with information about the work of the council, useful information and much more. Council customer services champion Cllr Chris Ready said: “It’s been more than seven years since Borough Life began and during that time we have tried to make it the best that it can be. It may have won national awards during this time but it’s more important that residents are happy with it. “We are constantly striving to improve Borough Life and that’s why we need our readers to tell us what they think about it. By giving us your opinion you could be helping to shape the future of the magazine. We’d love to hear from you.” ● All you have to do is fill in the simple form below, pop it in an envelope and send it to the Borough Life address at the bottom. It’s a Freepost address so you won’t need a stamp. Even easier you can send your answers to our email address: boroughlife@wigan.gov.uk For our Facebook and Twitter followers we’ll be starting a discussion thread about the magazine soon. So watch out for it and please tell us what you have to say. You can even hand the form in at your local library. Whether it be by post or email, Facebook or by hand, everyone who gives us their views on Borough Life will be entered into a free draw to win £50 in shopping vouchers. The closing date for entries is Monday April 18. Please tick appropriate box How do you rate Borough Life? Excellent < 5 ■ 4■ 3■

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Social network! S Borough Life went to press, Facebook film The Social Network was set to steal the show at the Oscars. And now the world of social media is creating a buzz a little bit closer to home. It is estimated that more than 28 million people use the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and local online community forums such as Wigan World and Leighlife. With 30 per cent of the population owning a cutting-edge ‘smartphone’ which allows them to connect to the Net on the move, it’s clear that Wigan Borough’s very own Social Network is only going to keep growing. Corporations, campaign groups and big businesses have longsince latched on to this high-tech world of information-sharing as a cheap and convenient way to give their customers and followers the information they need. And Wigan Council is following suit by increasing its own use of social sites like Facebook and Twitter. “One the one hand we have to save money,” says the council’s improvement champion Cllr Chris Ready. “The web provides us with a much quicker and cheaper way to do business. “But social media offers many more exciting opportunities to really enter a conversation with people, to find out what residents think of our services and how we can improve them. It is a great way to encourage people to take an active role in local government. The world won’t wait – we either get on board or get left behind.”

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Wigan Council is now active across the four most popular social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr – providing up to the minute advice and information, telling people about services and talking to local residents about all kinds of issues. The service really came to life when the borough faced its worst winter in 100 years. The council’s own website, Facebook and Twitter became vital sources of information for residents needing to find out whether their local school was open, the roads were clear and when waste was being collected. On just one day (Monday December 20), more than 10,000 people viewed the council’s Facebook page, while the number of Twitter ‘followers’ the council has recently smashed the 1,000-mark. Cllr Ready adds: “Quite rightly people expect to be able to access our services and talk to us in a way that suits them – not the other way round. We are listening to our customers and we have to continue to adapt. “However, we are also aware that there are many people in our borough who may not have access to a computer and are not online. We are trying to address this with free internet access at the borough’s libraries and Life Centres but our ultimate goal is to help more people get online and join the conversation.”

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Canal works upgrade paths

Learn more at www.visitgreen heart.com

THE canal towpaths between Lily Lane south of Platt Bridge and the road bridge at Plank Lane, Leigh, are being upgraded this spring. The council will create a 2-3m wide bridleway for the use of pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. A bonded weather-resistant foundation will be topped by a softer finish preferred by horse

riders, and there will be new benches, information boards and decorative ironwork. The canal route is an important link in Greenheart and connects with the network of existing footpaths and bridleways in the area as well as Amberswood Common, Pennington Flash Country Park and National Cycling Network Route 55 (which stretches to

Haigh Hall). The existing soft surface is often impassable in the wet winter months and the improvements wiill provide a valuable year-round off-road leisure facility. The project is being jointly funded by the council, the North West Coalfields Communities Regeneration Programme, the Future Jobs Fund and British Waterways.

Digging deep at Bickershaw DEVELOPMENTS are gathering pace at the Bickershaw Colliery regeneration project site. Late last year construction firm Birse officially opened a new section of road along Plank Lane which goes past the site entrance. Workers have been hard at it excavating the basin of the new marina at the site which feeds into the Leeds/Liverpool Canal. Birse Project Manager Stuart Macfarlane said: “The basin has now been excavated and contaminated material is being removed before we put in a waterproof lining. “Work is also ongoing to complete remaining areas of the carriageway and finishing touches, including decorative railings will be installed over the coming months.” The regeneration of Bickershaw Collier, which closed in 1992, was given the green light in 2009 through millions of pounds worth of funding from the government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Bickershaw South will bring hundreds of new homes, a 40 berth marina feeding the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, new greenery and space for new businesses. Engineers working on the 56 acre site believe the site could be ready for building on as early as summer 2012. Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member of the Economy and the Environment, Cllr David Molyneux, said: “It’s great news that the work at Bickershaw South really is on track. “Not only will the project bring a fantastic new leisure attraction to the site in the shape of the marina but we believe it will also act as the catalyst for further regeneration bringing more much-needed investment and employment opportunities to our borough.” Birse Civils is always available to listen to and address the concerns of local residents wherever possible, either by direct contact or through drop in mornings which take place every other Wednesday at the site offices on Plank Lane.

Call sent out to all snappers WITH two thirds of Wigan Borough countryside, there’s plenty to photograph. And the team behind Greenheart – the network of open spaces and countryside running through the centre of the borough – want your pictures for next year’s calendar. Officers are keen for Borough Life readers to send in high quality photos of nature – flowers, wildlife, birds or countryside scenes from local areas showing places like Haigh Hall, Pennington and the Wigan Flashes and Amberswood Common, at various seasons of the year. The best will be used to promote our countryside next year. Email jpegs (under 1 megabyte file size) to greenheartcalendar@ wigan.gov.uk before 1 September with your name and the shot’s location (two entries max per person). If your image is chosen, we’ll ask you for a higher resolution version and send you two copies of the 2012 Greenheart calendar. For more information on Greenheart go to www.visitgreenheart.com and look out for the calendars at the end of the year at the Tourist Information Office, the Museum of Wigan Life and other locations.

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EcoDrive C

ASH is tight for everyone, and as petrol prices creep ever higher, the people in charge of council vans are taking an innovative approach to their annual million pound fuel bill. Council drivers – some 250 experienced individuals, many already with extra licenses for specialist vehicles – are taking a course organised by DriveSense and the Energy Saving Trust. Each driver goes out on the roads with the assessor and is firstly asked to drive in their usual way and then they are given advice tailored to their needs. Their road skills and – crucially – their

TOP TIPS for readers ● Half of all tyres are under-inflated; Just 2psi below the recommended pressure may increase fuel consumption by 1 per cent. ● Remove excess weight from the boot and the roof rack if it’s not being used. ● Use higher gears – move up to fifth as soon as possible, this can save up to 20 per cent. ● Don’t accelerate towards a red light; ease off in good time. ● Turn the engine off! If you know the area, and know the lights will be on red for a minute, then switch off – some modern cars do this anyway. ● Ensure your vehicle is serviced regularly.

DRIVE ON: Keith Simpson gets some top fuel saving tips from Barry Nowell.

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fuel consumption are measured. And the miles per gallon comparison between ‘before’ and ‘after’ is impressive. The average saving in petrol consumption for each driver is ten per cent. One driver’s fuel use was cut by over twice that, simply by a more careful use of gears and brakes. Keith Simpson, transport manager, said: “The sessions have cost £4,000 but this is a hugely important investment – we are already making savings and estimate it could be worth about 10 per cent of our £1million bill. That’s up to £100,000 we hope to save, and with prices going up all the time continued savings like that will be all the more important.” Barry Nowell from DriveSense has been out with the council’s drivers, advising them on how to cut the gas. He said: “We can all make a difference to our fuel use by being a bit more careful. It reduces emissions too and helps us to be safer and more considerate motorists.” Fleet boss Keith told us everyone benefits from less fuel being used and drivers being refreshed on the latest techniques. “And we’ll be keeping in touch with all our drivers to ensure they continue with their newfound skills. With tighter legislation coming in all the time, we’re keen to keep our fleet motoring safely, environmentally and as efficiently as possible.” The training is being funded via the council’s Carbon Management Programme and is an example of wider work by sustainability officers in reducing the council’s and the borough’s carbon emissions.

TRADING PLACES: Wigan Council’s Chief Trading Standards Officer Julie Middlehurst and Deputy Leader Cllr David Molyneux are backing the good trader scheme.

Easy guide to find a trader you can trust IT’S spring, time for daffodils… and DIY. Yes, it’s the time of year when many Borough Life readers are considering improvements in and around the home. But if DIY = SOS, if a toolbox isn’t your bag, you’ll need a trader you can trust. And fortunately, you’re in the right place! Wigan Council’s ‘Good Trader’ scheme is a database of around 200 of the borough’s best – traders who put customers first, time and time again. “Reputable local traders are just a call or a click away with the Good Trader scheme”, said Cllr David Molyneux. “To earn their ‘Good Trader’ stripes, traders agree to tick the right boxes when it comes to consumer protection and other relevant legislation, and commit themselves to dealing fairly and honestly with their customers. Again and again. “Although the scheme is administered by Trading Standards, it’s customer satisfaction that counts. “Traders must provide excellent customer references upfront to apply, then allow future customers to submit a star rating of up to five gold stars for any work carried out – and the more satisfied the customer, the better the business rating. “So let the Good Trader scheme take the stress and worry out of finding a reliable trader. Honestly, what have you got to lose?” ● Wigan borough residents can access the Good Trader scheme directory online at www.wigan.gov.uk/goodtrader or by ringing Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 and ask for Wigan Council’s Good Trader scheme.


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Traveller’s TALES ELANIE Price remembers the days when the Travellers came to town. “It used to be a special time when the Gypsy woman came round,” she says. “It was something people looked forward to and welcomed. They were colourfully dressed, real characters you could say. “They would sell their wares to the locals and they would never be short of customers.” Somewhere along the way the nation’s fascination with the romance of travelling life LIVING HISTORY: got a bit lost. Today’s Melanie Price keeps travelling community is children enthralled often viewed with an with her tales of air of mistrust by the gypsy life. ‘settled’ population. All sorts of negative myths and stereotypes have built up around a group that’s trying desperately to keep its culture and heritage intact in the face of the gradual yet growing influence of modern 21st century life. Viewers of Channel 4’s recent sensationalistic insight their culture and heritage into traveller life My Big Fat alive.” Gypsy Wedding – were Melanie plays a big part in treated to the spectacle of helping to keep this culture oversized wedding dresses, alive and also to break down bare-knuckle dust-ups and the some of the barriers. peculiar custom of ‘grabbing’. Each June, Wigan celebrates But for Melanie, the truth Gypsy Roma Traveller Month about Gypsy-life couldn’t be and Melanie plays a big part. further removed from this Visiting the borough’s primary televisual spectacle, even if it and secondary schools, does make compulsive Melanie runs workshops viewing! where she wears traditional How does she know? Well, Gypsy costumes and dances Melanie is a true Romany who round a model campfire. can trace her ancestry far She teaches the ancient beyond the first Wigan craft of paper flower-making Borough Travellers’ camps on and keeps her keen young Miry Lane. audiences entranced with her Back to mainland Europe traveller’s tales. and right to where the It’s a labour of love for the nomadic people, who would woman who has grandchildren come to be called Roma, first and great grandchildren in the headed West from India. borough’s schools. “Travelling is in the blood “It’s a real thrill to see the for Roma people,” said young faces light up,” says Melanie. Melanie. “And by teaching the “Although more Travellers younger generation about our these days are becoming history we can tackle some of settled and choosing to live in the stereotypes that continue houses, they still want to keep to exist about our community.”

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pleased and proud that she has found time to visit our schools to share her rich Travelling is in cultural heritage with young people. the blood for “We will be putting on Roma people. various activities during Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month including exhibitions at the Melanie’s other passion in libraries in Wigan and Leigh. life is the charity she founded “It’s a great chance to find in 1990 called The Sunflower out more about this Trust, which provides aid to fascinating culture, to get developing communities in behind some of the myths and countries such as Romania, see a little more about the Hungary, Bangaladesh and the reality of travelling life.” Philippines. For more information on She regularly spends time events during Gypsy Roma abroad visiting the various Traveller History Month projects she has helped to set keep checking Wigan up but she promises to be Council’s website: back in time for this www.wigan.gov.uk year’s celebrations. For more For details on Ann O’Shea, information on the who is Wigan how to book national celebrations Council’s team Melanie to visit you can visit: leader for the your school or www.grthm.co.uk Traveller organisation you which aims to tackle Education Team, can contact Ann the negative said: “Melanie’s a O’Shea via email stereotyping and busy lady! at: a.o’shea@ prejudices. “We are really wigan.gov.uk BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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From

grotspots to greenery

AMIAN Jenkinson wants you – and you – and your community group, brownie pack and even your boss – to get involved with this year’s Borough in Bloom projects. “We did really well together last year,” Damian says. “The borough received a total of 11 awards from the Royal Horticultural Society and that’s a superb achievement and a credit to individuals, groups, as well as the partnership we have forged between business, residents, tenants, housing and council officers and your local ward members.” Last issue, Borough Life reported that the council had received a Gold award and environmental quality award from Northwest in Bloom, as well as prizes for community groups in Ashton, Orrell,

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Borough needs your help – in spades! Standish and Howe Bridge. And there were a clutch of other awards from organisations such as Keep Britain Tidy and House Beautiful magazine. It’s a record that Damian feels is a just reward for the In Bloom ethos, but it’s genuinely not the winning but the taking part that’s important. Most people will be aware of the six million bulbs planted – and now blooming – on verges and open spaces all around the area, as well as new trees and public art. Cost effective and attractive though this is, Damian says the scheme is really about empowering locals to create

the community scene that they want. Last year, he staged events to give people a chance to get involved with activities like growing their own food and planting seasonal containers. He adds: “This year we will be working hard with new groups who want to get involved, school establishments who want to improve their grounds and local businesses who would like to lend their support. Look out for events in your local Life Centre.” Dorothy Walls, chair of the Orrell Network, says: “Damian has supported us as we have transformed grotspots and created new landscaped areas.

“It’s really brought so many people together and we’ve achieved things which are appreciated by us locally as well as by visitors to Orrell.” Getting our ‘thriving neighbourhood’ award last year was brilliant – and I’d encourage anyone reading this to get involved.” ● Damian can put you in touch with a group in your area, or help you and a few like minded friends to start one. He continues to work with local businesses and is keen to hear from more. A timetable of upcoming events is For details available Call Damian on online, as 01942 488299 or well as look online at from your wiganborough local inbloom.co.uk library or Life Centre.


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Ending the If only... HESE words must resonate for Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst. If only their daughter had confided in them, and told them of the abuse she was suffering at the hands of her controlling partner. If only they’d had the power to protect her from the boyfriend who had already served time for his part in the murder of a Wigan man. If only they’d known what was going on behind closed doors. But tragically, Trevor and Sheila only found out about the violence their daughter had endured in the months before her death on the day they buried her, when the friends she’d sworn to secrecy told her griefstricken parents the truth. Carly Fairhurst was a bubbly, outgoing teenager with dreams of being a mum. But the 19 year old, described by her family as ‘beautiful and caring’, never realised her dream. Carly suffered fatal head injuries in February 2006 after falling down the stairs of her Ince home. At Darren Pilkington’s trial for murder, the court heard he lashed out at Carly during a row, grabbed her by the throat and caused her to fall with

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Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst with photographs of their daughter Carly who was killed by her abusive boyfriend when she was just 19.

tragic consequences. Carly was taken to hospital the following morning but never regained consciousness. She died six days later. After changing his plea, Pilkington was convicted of Carly’s manslaughter in December 2006 and given an indeterminate sentence by a judge who felt he posed a serious risk to the public. Over the past five years, Carly’s parents have channelled their grief into raising money for the vital counselling services which kept them going after their daughter’s death.

So far, they’ve raised more than £40,000 for The Carly Fund, which helps provide a counselling service through Wigan’s Victim Support. And they’re now also backing Wigan’s partnership-wide domestic abuse campaign in the hope of saving other families from suffering the way they have. “We lost our beautiful daughter when she became a victim of domestic abuse,” says Trevor. “Had she confided in us or sought help from any one of the local services available to victims, she would still be alive today.

Latest news on borough strategy By Cllr Keith Cunliffe CABINET MEMBER FOR HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES IN the last issue of Borough Life, we explained how agencies across the borough are working together to develop a strategy aimed at raising awareness of domestic abuse and signposting those at risk to more easily accessible services. Over the past few months, we’ve been talking to victims, families and perpetrators about their experiences of domestic abuse and the support they’ve had, so we can establish exactly what is needed in our borough to tackle this major priority. An ongoing programme of local community engagement is helping to inform our strategy as we go forward, and gives us an insight into how we can do things differently – and better. For instance, some victims of domestic abuse tell us they don’t report this crime to the police or other services and we want to find out why.

What we do know for sure is that the only way to deal with domestic abuse is through partnership working. No one single agency can tackle this issue. We need to get everybody working together, pooling resources and providing one easily-accessible service tailored to the needs of the individual. We also need the community to come on board. Only by challenging the long-accepted ‘norm’ in some quarters that domestic abuse is somehow acceptable can we hope to change perceptions – and ultimately behaviour. In the Summer issue of Borough Life, I hope to give you an update on how plans are developing, in particular around the training of front-line staff across all public services to make them more aware of the issues around domestic abuse; the increase in specialist services; and our work with perpetrators. In the meantime, I want to thank the various partners, including Wigan Athletic FC and Sheila and Trevor Fairhurst, for their commitment and support.

“We wholeheartedly back this campaign and beg people caught in abusive relationships to tell someone before it is too late for them too. “Together, we need to stamp out domestic abuse by making it as unacceptable to the average man in the street as drink driving has become. This campaign is an opportunity for all partners, including agencies, services and people across the community, to put their marker down and say there are no more excuses… it’s got to stop.” ● Every year, to celebrate her life, Trevor and Sheila hold a fundraising event around the time of Carly’s birthday. This year’s fundraiser will be held at the Monaco Ballroom in Hindley on Saturday 23 April. To book tickets, call 07708 646214 or 07749 325603.

Need to talk? For specialist and confidential advice, call: ● Domestic Violence National Helpline (24 hours) 0808 2000 247 ● Greater Manchester Helpline 0161 636 7525 ● Respect National Helpline (male victims) 0845 122 8609 If you, or somebody you know, is immediate danger, call 999.

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Tom and Rita – two lives every ten years 1931 TOM Aged 2, living in Preston, first born of four to mum, a mill loom sweeper and dad, a wire-drawer

1931 RITA Not born, parents not yet met or married

1941 TOM (no census because of war) Ready to leave school, now has 1 sister and 1 brother

1941 RITA Aged 2, parents run a pub in Chorley. 2 older brothers and 1 sister

1951 TOM Stayed on in Singapore as an RAF cook after National Service

1951 RITA At school in Chorley

1961 TOM Working at Leyland Motors, drummer in a band

1961 RITA Weaver in Chorley

1971 TOM Married and living near Wigan, driver for bakery

1971 RITA Housewife with 2 sons

1981 TOM Working at Heinz

1981 RITA Housewife with 3 sons

1991 TOM Eldest son married. Moved to Pemberton, retired after illness

1991 RITA Crafting for charities

2001 TOM Cycling with healthy heart group, all children married

2001 RITA Crafting and now grandmother to 6

2011 TOM RAF reunions, carer for Rita

2011 RITA Mobility problems, but still crafting

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Memories

are made of this... “I REMEMBER the chap calling,” said Tom. “It was our first national census as a couple and our second son had just been born.” The sprightly 81 year old is remembering the 1971 census: he, Rita and their first two children were living in a small house in Wigan for £3 a week, Rita a housewife, and Tom driving for a bakery. The information they provided then helped inform public service provision for the years ahead. “We always fill in our forms,” Rita added. “It’s important the authorities know what services they need to provide for us at each point in our lives.” That’s what the ten yearly census is all about. Data provided helps government, councils, the NHS and charities decide how to plan, fund and deliver services every day. Tom is a member of the carers’ forum, as he has to look after Rita and her mobility issues these days. He knows many others may be concerned as to what all

the paperwork is for, and so he went to one of the many advice sessions being held around the borough to explain what the census is all about. Council chief executive Joyce Redfearn said: “Especially in the current economic climate, it’s vital for planning and delivering appropriate local services that everyone fills in their census form.” People can expect a questionnaire delivered to their home after 7 March. Each household must complete it on 27 March – either on the form or online. For each person, the questions will take about 10 minutes. It is compulsory to do so with fines for non-completion, but there are

Need some help? DOWNLOAD or request a booklet containing guidance and a sample questionnaire in any of more than 50 languages through online help at www.census.gov.uk or phone 0300 0201 101. Census officers will be at the Life Centres in Leigh town hall, Marsh Green, Ince, Platt Bridge and Atherton at various times the week before and after census day 27 March, as well as at the Carers’ Forum, Leigh Pensioners’ Link and other sites to be announced.

helplines and advice sessions in the local Life Centres for people to get assistance or copies in different formats. Ms Redfearn added: “Nationally, our residents have traditionally been some of the most diligent completers of the form and extra effort this year is being made to involve harder to reach communities. The information we get is vital and people can be absolutely assured that there has never been a leak of any of the confidential information provided in a census form.” The personal details like those Rita and Tom shared with us are kept top secret for a century. Only the statistics are issued – no one can be identified and no private information is ever used by the authorities. Only after a hundred years is the census made available to archivists – and to the millions of homegrown historians eagerly researching their own family tree. It’s become so popular that there were over two million hits on the 1911 census website on the very first day it went online. And the efforts of people a century ago provide a fascinating glimpse into the past for people today. “Things have changed so much in our lifetimes,” laughed Rita. “Who knows what people a hundred years from now will make of us!”


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Germaine Greer speaks up for ‘Shakespeare’s Wife’

Literary legend heads up festival RITER, academic, journalist, voice of the feminist movement and occasional occupant of the Big Brother house… Germaine Greer’s pretty much done it all, but she’s never been to Wigan. That will all change next month when she takes centre-stage at the borough’s very own literature festival – Words 2011. The evening with Professor Greer is entitled Shakespeare’s Wife after her book of the same name. Whilst the bard is recognised

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as one of the most influential writers of all time, little is still known about his other-half, Anne Hathaway. Germaine uses literaryhistorical techniques together with documentary evidence to shine a spotlight on Mr and Mrs Shakespeare during her performance at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts Centre on Turner Street on Thursday 23 April. The festival, which starts on Monday 25 April, is now a

firm favourite on the borough calendar. This year will see a series of workshops, performances, talks and much more. The itinerary includes a session dedicated to the borough’s favourite ball game called In League with Literature which feature a talk from renowned rugby commentator Ray French, Independent journalist Dave Hadfield, award winning rugby historian Tony Collins and author Tony Hannan. Words 2011 co-ordinator, Gillian Forrester says there’s something for everyone during the two-week festival. “We’re thrilled to have Germaine Greer as one of our star attractions this year, it’s a real coup for the festival,” saidGillian. “We are also really grateful for the support we have received from the Arts Council which has helped to make the festival possible. “The festival is a tribute to the power of the spoken and written word but it is also a celebration of the vibrant cultural scene we enjoy in our borough.” Words 2011 starts on Monday April 25. Full listing details are at Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s website wlct.org/arts or call Gillian Forrester on 01942 828337.

■■■■

HIGHLIGHTS OTHER selected highlights include: ● Tuesday April 26 Wigan Cricket Club, Bull Hey, Parsons Walk, Wigan 10am to 12.30pm. Enjoying Books as a Blind Person Derek Heyes, with his guide-dog Greg, will present a brief history of Braille and describe how it works. He will also discuss technological advances and the ways blind readers can access audio and electronic books. Please phone 01942 8249 23 if you wish to attend. Free event. ● Thursday 28 April. The Tudor House Hotel, New Market Street, Wigan, 8pm. The Dead Poets. ‘Dead Poets’ will take audiences of all ages on a journey from the classroom to the club in just under an hour. Packed with witty wordplay, laugh out loud humour, and overflowing with creative energy, Free event ● Wednesday May 4, Standish Library – 7.30pm. Mother and Daughters. Kate Long is the author of five books including the number one bestseller The Bad Mother’s Handbook. Her fifth book, Mothers and Daughters, is out this month. Tickets £5 including cheese and wine. Call Standish Library to book tickets on 01257 400 496. ● Friday May 6 at ALRA, Turner Street – 8pm. Broken Time. Mick Martin is a writer with a vast number of commissions for the theatre, television, film and radio. Broken Time tells the story of how the game of rugby split in two in the 1980’s, a fissure based on class, money and power. Free event. ● Saturday May 7, ALRA, Turner Street. – 7.30pm. Willpower. The evening will be a showcase of new short plays written and performed by talented, local young people. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling Willpower on 01942 498 339 or can be bought on the door. Adults £4.50. Concessions £3.50 ● Wednesday 4 May. In League with Literature at Ashton Library – 7.30pm. An evening featuring five well-known rugby league writers and broadcaster. Come and join Phil Caplan (No White Flag), Professor Tony Collins (1895 and All That, Rugby’s Great Split), Dave Hatfield (Up and Over, Down and Under), Tony Hannan (Being Eddie Waring, Seasons in the Sun), and BBC rugby league commentator Ray French (Ray French and... Rugby) for an evening of insight, chat and sporting words. Tickets cost £5. To book call Ashton Library on 01942 727 119.

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Spring 2011

What’s

ON

For full details of all special and regular events and festivals, pick up a What’s On brochure at your local library or visit www.wlct.org/whatson

Arts and Festivals Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. 01942 404469

Sat 19th Mar, 10:00am-1pm

APPROACHES TO LANDSCAPE PAINTING FOR ADULTS Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. Suitable for beginners and those with some previous experience. Includes all materials. Booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 404469. £7

Wed 23rd Mar, 3:30-5:30pm

CRAFT CORNER Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. Artist led workshop for 11-16s. No need to book just drop in on the day. Meet in children’s section at Leigh library. For further information telephone 01942 404469. FREE

Sat 26th Mar, 10:00am-3pm

BATIK FOR ADULTS Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. Suitable for beginners. Includes all materials. Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 404469. £12

Fri 1st Apr, 1pm-2:30pm

CRAFT CIRCLE Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. An informal social gathering for anyone with an interest in crafts. For further information telephone 01942 404469. FREE

Sat 2nd Apr, 10:30am-12:30pm

ARTS ACTIVE Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. Artist led workshop for 5-12s. Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 404469. FREE

Fri 15th Apr to Wed 20th Apr

Sun 24th Apr, 1pm-4pm

ART LAB

EASTER SUNDAY WALK

Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. An innovative mix part exhibition and part workshop that promises to engage families, children and young people in particular with activities ranging from cartooning and animation to extreme crochet and graffiti. FREE

Three Sisters Recreation Area, Bryn Road. Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 720453. FREE

Green Spaces Tue 19th Apr, 1:30pm-3:30pm

THE PENNINGTON FLASH BOAT RACE Pennington Flash, St Helens Road, Leigh. Recycling can be fun! Make a model boat from scrap wood with the rangers. Then we will set sail, and see where the wind takes us! Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 605253.

Tue 19th Apr, 11am

EASTER WORDSEARCH Wigan Flashes, Welham Rd, Wigan. Come and explore Wigan Flashes and look for hidden wildlife characters around the reserve. Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 233976.

Thu 21st Apr, 1:30pm-4pm

EASTER HUNT Three Sisters Recreation Area, Bryn Road. Join the rangers on an Easter hunt around Three Sisters. Make sure you bring a hard boiled egg for one of the challenges. Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 720453.

Sun 24th Apr, 1-3pm

CRAFT CORNER

MESNES EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA

Turnpike Gallery, Leigh. Artist led workshop for 11-16s. No need to book just drop in on the day. Meet in the children’s section at Leigh library. For further information telephone 01942 404469. FREE

Mesnes Park, Wigan. Fun for all the family. Booking essential. For ages 5yrs+. For further information and to book telephone 01942 245369. Small charge applies

Wed 6th Apr, 3:30pm-5:30pm

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BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

Mon 25th Apr, 12-3pm

EASTER CHICK TRAIL Pennington Flash Country Park. Drop in to Pennington Flash Country Park, hunt for the Easter chicks, and solve the Easter riddle. For further information telephone 01942 605253.

Mon 25th Apr, 12-3pm

EASTER BUNNY TRAIL Haigh Hall Country Park. Hunt the bunnies and find the clues to complete the puzzle. For ages 5yrs+. For further information telephone 01942 832895.

Fri 29th Apr, 10am

WETLAND BIRD SURVEY TRAINING Wigan Flashes, Welham Rd, Wigan. Lancashire Wildlife Trust staff explain the techniques for surveying birds which inhabit the wetlands of Wigan Flashes. For further information and to book telephone 01942 233976. FREE

Haigh Country Park – Events Wed 23rd March, Bar opens 7pm, start 8pm

EVENING OF CLAIRVOYANCE WITH DAVID TRAYNOR We are delighted to welcome back David to Haigh, there is no reserved seating for this performance. £13

Sun 3rd April

MOTHERS DAY LUNCH Treat your Mum like a lady and bring her to Haigh Hall for sumptuous 3-course meal, she will also receive a special gift, early booking advised. £19.95 Adults, £9.95 children under 12.

Sat 9th April

MAMA MIA IT’S MURDER Includes 4 course dinner. £29

Fri 15th April

COSI FAN TUTTE PERFORMED BY HERITAGE OPERA Ticket booking line 0843 208 0500 or online at www.heritageopera.co.uk £20, concession £18.

Heritage Events

Sat 30th Apr, 7:30am

DAWN CHORUS WALK AND BREAKFAST

Wed 30th Mar to Tue 5th Apr

Wigan Flashes, Welham Rd, Wigan. Get up with the larks, then listen for one! Booking essential. For further information and to book telephone 01942 233976. £1.50

Museum of Wigan Life. Arts installation commemorating 50 years since the death of George Formby. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

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Outdoor wear advisable. For booking and further information telephone 01942 828128. £2

Sat 16th Apr, 1pm

SPRING TO MIND Museum of Wigan Life. Wigan Pier Youth Theatre present drama interpretation from our resident youth group. For further information telephone 01942 828128.

Sat 16th Apr, 1:30-2:30pm

STORIES FROM OUR WORLD

Thu 31st Mar, 6:307:45pm

Museum of Wigan Life. Join us for special story and rhyme sessions for under 5s. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

AN EVENING WITH GERRY MAWDSLEY

Mon 18th Apr, 2pm

Museum of Wigan Life. President of the George Formby Society. ‘The George Formby Story’. Booking essential. Price includes light refreshments. For further information telephone 01942 828128. £2.50

Museum of Wigan Life. Discover your Museum on one of our fun family friendly tours. All tours last half an hour. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

Fri 1st Apr

MEET THE ARCHITECTS PAST AND PRESENT Museum of Wigan Life. FREE

Sat 2nd Apr, 12:00pm

LEIGH HISTORY & FUN WALKS Atherton Cemetery, Leigh Town Trail. Book at Wigan & Leigh Local Studies. Telephone 01942 404559. £1

Sun 3rd Apr, 1-2:30pm

FAMILY FRIENDLY TOURS

Tue 19th Apr & Thu 21st Apr, 1-2:30pm

EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA! Museum of Wigan Life. Something for children up to 12 years. Booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 828128. £2.50

Thu 21st Apr, 5:30pm-7pm

MR DOOTSON’S READING GROUP

Tue 5th Apr, 1:00pm

Wigan & Leigh Local Studies, Leigh Library. ‘North and South’ and the cotton and silk industry. For further information telephone 01942 404559. FREE

OBJECT OF THE MONTH – GEORGE FORMBY MEDAL

Fri 22nd Apr to Tue 30th Aug

WIGAN HISTORY WALK Meet outside the Museum of Wigan Life on Library Street. 01942 828128. £2

Museum of Wigan Life. Discover the stories behind some of our favourite Museum objects. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

Fri 8th Apr, 11am-12pm

CARVED IN STONE WALKS Ince UDC Cemetery, Warrington Rd. Discover your local area on foot. For booking and further information telephone 01942 828128. £2

Tue 12th Apr & Tues 14th Apr, 1-2:30pm

EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA! Museum of Wigan Life. Something for children up to 12 years. Booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 828128. £2.50

Tue 12th Apr, 11am-12pm

CARVED IN STONE WALKS Lower Ince Cemetery. Discover your local area on foot.

SEEDS OF CHANGE Museum of Wigan Life. Come and discover how the borough’s environment has changed over time. Find out how people have played a part in shaping Wigan Borough. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

Sat 23rd Apr, 1:30-2:30pm

STORIES FROM OUR WORLD Museum of Wigan Life. Join us for special story and rhyme sessions themed from stories from all over the world for under 5s. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

Thu 28th Apr, 6:30-7:45pm

AN EVENING WITH DIANNE TESKEY Museum of Wigan Life. Wigan Heritage Service’s Dianne Teskey. ‘Thomas Taylor – Man of Means’ – A behind the scenes informal talk about Thomas Taylor. For further information telephone 01942 828128. £2.50

Sat 30th Apr, 1:30-2:30pm

STORIES FROM OUR WORLD Museum of Wigan Life. Join us for special story and rhyme sessions themed from stories from all over the world for under 5s. For further information telephone 01942 828128. FREE

Leisure Venues Sun 20th Mar, 7:30pm

BRASS BAND CONCERT Formby Hall, Alder Street, Atherton, Greater Manchester, M46 9EY. Eagley Band. For further information telephone 01942 876496. Charge applies.

Fri 1st Apr, 8-11:30pm

N.C.D.S.W SOCIAL DANCE Formby Hall, Alder Street, Atherton, Lancashire, M46 9EY. LEIGH PHOENIX N.C.D.S.W. Sequence, Ballroom, Line, & Rock’n’roll. Over 45, Divorced, Separated or Widowed. For further information visit www.leighphoenix.co.uk or telephone 01942 222537. £2.50 members, concessionary. £3.50 non-member.

contact Standish library on 01257 400496 to reserve a place and for further information. Small charge applies.

Tue 5th Apr, 10-11am

BUNNY STORIES Wigan Children’s Library, WN1 1AR. Special monthly under 5s story time – Bunny Stories. For further information telephone 01942 828104.

Thu 7th Apr, 10am-12pm

INSPECT A GADGET Leigh Library Learn about the latest computer technologies and how they can make life more simple and much more fun! Booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 404404.

Thu 7th Apr, 3-5pm

WII PLAY SESSION Ince Library. For further information telephone 01942 324423. FREE

Thu 14th Apr, 10am-12pm

INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC SERVICES ONLINE Leigh Library Learn how to access local council services, NHS choices, directgov and much more. Booking essential For further information telephone 01942 404404.

Fri 15th Apr, 10-11am

EASTER FUN (CRAFT)

Sun 3rd Apr, 2pm

Hindley Library. Ages 6-11. Booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 255287. £1

BRASS BAND CONCERT

Tue 19th Apr, 2-3pm

Formby Hall, Alder Street, Atherton, Greater Manchester, M46 9EY. Wingates Band. For further information telephone 01942 876496.

EASTER CRAFT CLUB

Sat 16th Apr

Wigan Children’s Library, WN1 1AR. Easter Craft Club – Easter cards/ Easter baskets and Easter egg hunt. Age 5-11 yrs. For further information telephone 01942 828104. £1

2ND ANNUAL SPRING DANCE

Thu 21st Apr, 10am-12pm

Monaco Ballroom, Hindley. For further information and to book telephone 07872 146896 or visit www.husrtdance.co.uk £10

Sun 17th Apr, 7:30pm

BRASS BAND CONCERT Formby Hall, Alder Street, Atherton, Greater Manchester, M46 9EY. Fairey (Geneva) Band. For further information telephone 01942 876496. Charge applies.

AN INTRODUCTION TO LIBRARY ONLINE SERVICES Leigh Library Learn about free online services available through the website www.wlct.org booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 404404.

Thu 21st Apr, 3-4pm

EASTER FUN (CRAFT)

Sat 23rd Apr, 11am-2pm

Libraries – Events

SUPER SATURDAYS! CELEBRATE!

INCE LIBRARY Ages 6-11 years. Booking essential. Contact 01942 324423. £1

Sat 26th Mar, 10am

Tue 26th Apr, 2-3pm

MOTHER’S DAY POTS AND CARDS

EASTER BINGO

Museum of Wigan Life. Celebrate St George and the Royal Wedding. For further information and to book telephone 01942 828128. FREE

Standish Library, Cross Street, Standish, Lancashire, WN6 8HQ. Limited places available. Please

Wigan Children’s Library, WN1 1AR. Easter bingo – booking essential. For further information telephone 01942 828104. £1 BOROUGH LIFE Spring 2011

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Borough Life Issue 33 Spring 2011