Littleborough Events and Associations Forum

2018 Report from the Chair

In the ten years since the establishment of LEAF, the make-up of the group has changed to be mainly independent and enthusiastic individuals, rather than representatives of groups but our influence is apparent in the appearance of dynamic events throughout the town. I like to think that we changed the ethos of Littleborough and that our approach to creating events that delight and inspire has given the impetus to other groups to develop exciting programmes of their own, so that now our little town is widely, and sometimes enviously, recognised as having a special quality.

This last year has been one of change. After a trial at the Coach House, organised by John, we eventually decided to abandon the craft fairs. Attendance was low and no income was produced for LEAF. The aim of the market was to provide an income for LEAF in support of our events and while the outside market continues to be supported by a handful of dedicated vendors the income from them was paying for the Coach House rental instead of boosting LEAF funds. The regular stall holders are still enthusiastic and eager to continue, developing their own committee. We benefit from the arrival of Ann Northover, who volunteered to take over market bookings and she will be working with the vendors in the future.

Geoff Pickstone was welcomed with open arms when he volunteered to take over the publicity role; organising posters, banners, and their distribution. However we found that local regulations prevent us hanging banners where we did and we have received instruction not to so without planning permission (at a significant cost per site). Geoff is now looking at alternative forms of publicity.

The Party in the Park is now an established event in the Littleborough Calendar, with regular attractions, stalls (charity and vendors).This year’s was no exception in being well attended and blessed with decent, if not brilliant weather. Innovations were well received (Story tent, sports activities, toilets!). We have a good relationship with Hare Hill House and the Friends of the Park; their contribution is invaluable.

Rushbearing is a great Lancashire tradition and Littleborough is one of four places that still run a Rushcart (the others being: Sowerby Bridge, Saddleworth and Whitworth). In the past there has been great input, first from Rochdale Morris and then from Thieving Magpie. Now, with the influence of Oakenhoof the event is growing in spectacle and quality. There were some traffic management problems during the Sunday parade but these have been resolved. A little known part of Rushbearing is the cart dressing social at Warland Farm on the preceding Thursday. We must thank David and Monica for hosting the event, which is growing as more people attend to help dress the cart, play, sing, eat , drink and have a jolly time. With the ceilidh on Friday night the Rushbearing now extends over four days. From what I hear this fabulous event in 2018 is promising to be “massive”.

We are grateful to RMBC for their support of our events with grants, road closures and traffic management. We received a “one-off” grant which covered all our costs for the year. In 2018 we have to apply in the usual way, and Helen Chicot has agreed to add this to her other admin. roles for LEAF.

Lancashire day was recognised on the 27th of November by raising the Lancashire flag, by the cenotaph, in the presence of mayor of Rochdale.

We have improved the Christmas Lights Switch-on, adding fairground rides and stalls to the traditional brass band and morris dancers. In 2017 the new choir “Sing:Littleborough!” made their debut. Father Christmas and his elves arrived by fire- engine. The lights were switched on by a pupil of Smithy Bridge School, assisted by the mayor. The weather was….OK.

There are some other events in Littleborough that, although not directly organised under the LEAF banner, I regard as “spin-offs” as they are supported by LEAF or organised by LEAF members.

Four years ago Helen Chicot and I worked together to set up a Littleborough folk dance group to support the Rushbearing Festival. The group, supported by LEAF and now constituted as Oakenhoof Folk Arts, has gained an international reputation for the quality of their music, dance and overall eccentricity. There have been appearances on TV, theatre and at festivals around the country. The youth teams have won national awards.

Another event that I regard as a LEAF “spin-off” is the Food festival, ably organised by Neela, Simon and local businesses this shows how successful we have been in encouraging local businesses to get together and organise an event that is growing in stature and reputation after only two years.

We agreed to give our support to “Always with a Smile” and, led by Zoë, they are in the process of organising a new World Record event carrying beer kegs up Blackstone Edge. This promises to be a huge spectacle and I wish them well.

So… another successful year for LEAF, with great things planned for the future. I am proud to have been part of it but I am running out of ideas and energy and as I get older, with less than perfect health I feel it is time to stand down and give way to younger, more energetic folk. Thank you all for your confidence and trust in my ambitions and for the work you have undertaken with me over the years.

Steve Lister

Contact Information

Littleborough Events and Associations Forum

C/o John Kay, Molesworths Bright Clegg Octagon House
25-27 Yorkshire Street
OL16 1RH

Meeting times

Meetings are held monthly, on the first Wednesday of the month, at St Barnabas Church, St Barnabas Drive, Littleborough commencing at 7.30pm




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