Man of Rochdale Paul Ellison celebrates 30 years of community work
Date published: 09 May 2020
Paul Ellison and Ray Smith - Man of Rochdale 2019 joint winners
Man of Rochdale Paul Ellison is celebrating his 38th birthday (Saturday 9 May) by marking 30 whole years of volunteering in the local community.
Paul, of Norden, began volunteering just days after his eighth birthday – starting out with the now-disbanded Naden Valley Conservation Group – and he has never looked back.
A familiar face around the borough, father-of-one Paul can usually be found getting his hands dirty, whether it’s planting flowers and trees, to clearing fly-tipping and sprucing up unloved patches of land.
In recent years, he has also become chairman of NEEVA, Norden Environment and Economic Village Association, the Friends of Norden Jubilee Park, and also set up the Friends of Ashworth Valley.
Paul is also vice chairman of the Rochdale In Bloom effort, which has brought home a number of gold horticultural awards in the last few years, and he is also a Keep Britain Tidy ambassador.
Last year, Paul was named a joint winner of Man of Rochdale 2019 alongside the chair of Pennines in Bloom, Ray Smith.
A neighbour who was an established member of the Naden Valley Conservation Group and a good friend of Paul’s mum invited Paul along to join in the group’s work, where he met Stuart Brown – a former Area Countryside Ranger for North West Water (now United Utilities).
Stuart said: “I remember one particular Sunday in 1990 when I was teaching hedge-laying to a group of volunteers from the Naden Valley Conservation Group. A young lad was introduced to me by one of the group saying, ‘this is Paul Ellison, he’s eight-years-old and he would like to be one of your volunteers.’
“That was the start of Paul’s unblemished career in volunteering in countryside and land management. Without fail, Paul was out in all weathers, helping me with every task and he was even with me most days during his school holidays.”
He recalled: “Back then, Paul was very timid and shy. He undertook varied tasks: tree planting, footpath and stream clearance, dry-stone walling, fencing, wildflower planting and the list is not exhaustive.
“Paul has a huge passion for the countryside, and I could see it back then, 30 years ago. I am immensely proud of my young protégé.
“When Paul was honoured with Man of the Year for Rochdale and other accolades, he never forgot about those early days. He tracked me down and invited me to be his guest of honour when he was invited to have tea with the Mayor at the town hall. I was so pleased to accept his kind offer.
“Paul is a true man of Rochdale; he may be from Norden, but he will go out of his way to help anywhere or anyone in the borough.”
When he was 12, Paul was presented with a Certificate of Commendation from the Rochdale and Oldham Groundwork Trust by Norden ward councillor James Gartside, honouring the four years of hard voluntary work he had then carried out.
Councillor Gartside said: “The Certificate of Commendation was in recognition of four years of voluntary work Paul had done since he was eight. Now, 30 years later, he is still volunteering and doing public service.
“Some of this consistent service over three decades was recognised when he was made Rochdale Man of the Year last November, 2019. He has helped with many things, not just in Norden with Jubilee Park and NEEVA and numerous other delights, and in Castleton with his input with the new Memorial Stone, but also by encouraging and supporting others and enabling Rochdale In Bloom to achieve Gold in various North West and National In Bloom trophies.
“In addition to all this, Paul was instrumental in the success of the World War One pop-up garden next to the Town Hall and won a gold medal at RHS Tatton Park.
“It is wonderful that Paul is so creative and practical at the same time.”
In 2017, Paul was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Mayor and Mayoress of Rochdale for his hard work and dedication to improving Norden, especially spending his time cleaning and tidying, fundraising, and setting up groups and events.
Paul added: “I really enjoy what I do, and I plan to continue doing it all for as long as I can. I want to make Norden, and the whole of the Rochdale borough, an attractive and pleasant place to be, which I hope I have achieved over the years.
“I’ve been helped on this journey by many people, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today.”
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