Mayor’s Column: Councillor Mike Holly

Date published: 04 February 2024

Councillor Mike Holly was sworn in as the Mayor of Rochdale in May 2023.

This column is about the places he has been and the people he met in January 2024.

Happy New Year to you all! After a very hectic December, January has been much quieter, which is normal. As a result, the Mayoress and I managed to get away for a short recuperative holiday.

There have been two particularly important events this month. First, Holocaust Memorial Day on 24 January. This year’s theme was the Fragility of Freedom. In the morning I attended a Memorial Service in Manchester Hall in the city centre. It was attended by the Lord Lieutenant, who did a reading, the Mayors of all the ten boroughs (apparently the first time this has happened) and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham who made an address. The moving service included a reading from the diary of Anne Frank by pupils of Falinge Park High School, which they performed with much dignity.

In the evening, the Mayoress and I attended Rochdale’s commemoration. It was the Pennines turn this year. First of all, the Holocaust Memorial stone, situated by the War Memorial in the centre of Littleborough was re-dedicated, where I delivered a reading. The attendees then moved to Littleborough Coach House for the Act of Commemoration. Again, a very moving event, including videos recorded, before their sad deaths, from the late Robin Parker and the late Sir Tony Lloyd MP.

This was followed by the statement of commitment to continue to hold an Annual Holocaust Remembrance by the leader of the Council, Cllr Neil Emmott, the leader of the Opposition, Cllr John Taylor and the chief executive of Rochdale Council, Steve Rumbelow.

It was poignant for me to light the first of six candles to remember the six million Jews and millions of other people who were murdered in the Holocaust. To finish the event, I made some reflections about the whole day and the need to ensure that future generations never forget the barbarity of the Holocaust, and, in this, I take some comfort from the fact that Falinge Park High School is a Beacon for Holocaust education.

The other event was the ceremony for the residents of Greater Manchester, who were receiving King’s awards from the Lord Lieutenant in Gorton Monastery. It is always a pleasure to go there as it is a magnificent venue for such prestigious events. What made it particularly lovely this time was that two of our residents received awards. Police Officer Muhammad Nadeem was awarded the British Citizens Award for services to the community. Not only has he done much in the community and voluntary sector, but he also showed great bravery by jumping into a deep, fast flowing river to rescue a man. A well-deserved award for an unassuming man.

The other award was a British Empire medal to Bob Bonner. Bob worked in the Fire Service for his entire working life but, after retiring, became the curator of the Fire Station Museum on Maclure Road and has also been an ambassador for fire prevention in the community and schools. Bob conducted a wonderful tour for the Mayoress and myself around the Museum. It is a brilliant place and testament to the incredible efforts of Bob and his colleagues and Trustees to develop such a fantastic museum. His honour is fully deserved.

Other events that we have attended include:

  • Handing out certificates for Customer Service and Mental Health First Aid training courses at Rochdale Training. This is a joint project between Rochdale Training and HMR NHS Primary Care Academy for pre- employment training.
  • Presenting prizes and medals at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club. It was impressive to see so many junior successes at both home and away regattas and, perhaps, there is another emerging Stuart Bithell in the making. A lovely family evening, with everyone contributing to a light supper.
  • Attending and presenting certificates to the winners of the Primary School Poetry competition. Again a lovely evening. It was a pleasure to listen to some impressive poetry recitations from such confident young people. All of the poems have been recorded in a book which will be part of the British Library’s (who organised the idea) collection.
  • Entertaining the three Perez brothers, Andrew, Colin and Ethan along with their parents. The boys have all won numerous medals for Ju-Jitsu in this country, Europe and even the USA. But they are also fully rounded and have many other interests and talents, their parents must be so proud.

Next month gets back to the normal, fairly intensive diary.

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