Weekly Column: Mayor Billy Sheerin

Date published: 08 August 2019

This weekly column from the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Billy Sheerin, is about the places he has been and the people he has met during the week commencing Monday 29 July to Sunday 4 August 2019.

Monday, I was invited to Rochdale Foodbank with Rochdale’s MP, Tony Lloyd. I am very familiar with the foodbank, as on many occasions I have been able to bring in donations of food from St Gabriel’s and St John’s Roman Catholic churches.

I and all members of the council are extremely appreciative of the way that the hundred or so unpaid volunteers provide a lifeline for people in Rochdale who are finding it extremely difficult to feed themselves and their families.

Tuesday, a portrait of Alderman Edward Taylor was returned to Rochdale Town Hall. I was amazed at the restoration - it really has brought a character that was once in the gloom back to life.

It was interesting for me, as a person who knows nothing about the restoration process, to discover how Lancashire Conservation Studios brought the portrait of this important figure in Rochdale back to a sound state.

Alderman Taylor (1813–1895) was a pharmacist and councillor in Rochdale who opposed the building of the town hall and instead, wanted a new sewerage system. Eventually, Rochdale got both.

I’m sure the Friends of Rochdale Town Hall are delighted with the results. They are now planning on restoring the third and final portrait in the same room at the town hall.


A portrait of Alderman Edward Taylor has been restored and was returned to Rochdale Town Hall on Tuesday (30 June 2019)


Also, on Tuesday (30 July), I had a meeting with Dr Michael Taylor from Little Monkeys Charity, who support families in Heywood. Dr Taylor is also the founder of Recovery Republic in Heywood, so when I visited there a few weeks ago for their 7th anniversary I invited him to the Mayor’s Parlour.

Dr Taylor opened Recovery Republic in 2012 when he realised that people suffering from drug and alcohol misuse or abuse had no support from the NHS once they were discharged. He bought premises on York Street and with the help of volunteers has built up the establishment to be a place of warmth and love where you can get additional help.

I will be officially opening new premises for him on Saturday in Heywood, so we had a chat about that, and I made him aware that I fully support his work. He is a very passionate man who has achieved so many amazing things. I hope he can continue his work for many years to come.


Mayor Billy Sheerin with Dr Michael Taylor
Mayor Billy Sheerin with Dr Michael Taylor (right)


Thursday, Wing Commander David Forbes 80th birthday was celebrated at the Veteran’s Breakfast Club. The club is a really nice event, running every Thursday in the Clock Tower Dining Room, and I was delighted to present David with his cake.

David was born and educated in Rochdale and is the President of Rochdale’s branch of the Royal British Legion. He collected his MBE from Buckingham Palace in 2017 for his services to the voluntary and charity sector over many years, supporting young people’s and ex-service charities across the Greater Manchester region.


Wing Commander David Forbes celebrated his 80th birthday at the Veterans Breakfast Club with councillor Janet Emsley, Caen Matthews (Rochdale Council armed forces officer) and Mayor Billy Sheerin
Wing Commander David Forbes (centre) with councillor Janet Emsley, Caen Matthews (Rochdale Council armed forces officer) and Mayor Billy Sheerin


After the breakfast, a service of dedication was held in Rochdale Memorial Gardens at the Rochdale in Bloom World War One Memorial. This service made the garden that little bit more special; blessing the ground in the sense that the temporary garden has been saved as it now has a permanent home.

Having spoken to many veterans, I know that the Cenotaph and the memorial gardens are close to all our veterans’ hearts. It is a place of peace and tranquillity, somewhere to sit in silence amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It really does have a tranquil effect when you sit in the garden and remember all those injured and who lost their lives - a fitting tribute to those who sacrificed their all.

Town centre chaplain, Reverend Margaret Smith, hosted the dedication and it was a lovely event with the sun shining. All of us involved in the making of the garden hope it can stay here for many years to come.


Mayor Billy Sheerin attended the WW1 Pop Up Garden Dedication Service in Rochdale Memorial Gardens


Saturday, I had no mayoral engagements, but Sunday was a most enjoyable day for me. I was invited to Springhill Hospice with my wife for their Summer Garden Celebration. It was amazing to see how many people were in attendance, showing their support for one of our much-needed local charities, which is exactly how it should be.

Attendees had the opportunity to tour the beautifully kept gardens (looked after by Nick Dent who I know well from Rochdale in Bloom and is an amazing gardener), as well as the chance to buy some of the hospice plants and produce, have fun with family and friends with garden games, face painting and plenty of craft stalls were on hand too.

I was taken around the event by CEO of Springhill, Julie Halliwell, and queued for 30 minutes to get my hands on a woodfired pizza – no I didn’t jump the queue as the Mayor…

The garden party was a lovely occasion, thank you to Springhill for inviting me and my wife along.


Mayor Billy Sheerin with his wife Mayoress Lynn Sheerin and Springhill Hospice CEO Julie Halliwell (left) at the Springhill Hospice Summer Garden Celebration
Mayor Billy Sheerin with his wife, Mayoress Lynn, and Springhill Hospice CEO Julie Halliwell (left)


I finished Sunday at Ellenroad Engine House Steam Museum as I unveiled their new engine ‘Irene’ who was recently restored.

We arrived at the museum in Peter Riggs (of Gordon Riggs) 1930 Lagonda. It was beautiful, myself and my wife felt like the king and queen sat in the back.

I was like a child in a toy shop when we arrived, and I saw the engines. It really was my kind of scene; I was absolutely amazed. This was one of the most enjoyable things I have done as the mayor, as I am an engineer, so I enjoyed getting hands on and remembering my youth as an apprentice who worked with components that had to be steam tested.

The number of hours the volunteers put in deserves recognition, they have dedicated a great amount of time to the restoration of various engines and I thank all for inviting me to be a part of this special day for the reveal of Irene.


Mayor Sheerin switching Irene on
Mayor Sheerin officially switching 'Irene' the engine on


Mayoral Invitations

​​​​The Mayor welcomes invitations to events held by local organisations and individuals. Due to demand, it may not be possible for the Mayor to attend every event he is invited to.

To invite the Mayor to your event please complete the Mayor attendance form and return it to the Mayor's Officer.

Visit: www.rochdale.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/mayors/Pages/mayoral-invitations.aspx

Email: mayoral@rochdale.gov.uk

Tel: 01706 924773

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