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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke



Preview by Steve Cooke

I am delighted to see that we have a couple of great opportunities for our young creatives coming up in 2024 with the Rochdale Literature Festival and Changemakers, with Royal Exchange Theatre - Rochdale Children’s Literature Festival

This annual event aims to create a lifelong love of literature in young people and has previously included workshops, pop-up book shops, theatre, and opportunities to meet authors. The event will take place on Saturday 6 July 2024 at Rochdale Central Library.

Creative Director Clare McGreevy says she is keen to:

• Increase primary and secondary engagement

• Expand to other venues near the library

• Link creative writing projects to RCLF

• Make further cross community links

• Give a platform to more local performers, workshops, and artists

• Generate higher media interest to cement Rochdale’s place on the literary


If you’d like to get involved or want more information about the event, please contact Clare on

Changemakers - Opportunity for Secondary Schools

Royal Exchange Theatre are bringing their pop-up theatre ‘The Den’ to Rochdale in 2024 and are inviting young people to get involved in programming a community arts festival in the space. The Royal Exchange team will visit local secondary schools in early 2024 to talk to young people about the opportunities to get involved and deliver their own community activism project. An information pack is available here. Any schools or colleges interested in getting involved should contact Tom Stocks, Royal Exchange Schools Coordinator, at or call on 0161 615 6786.


Preview by Steve Cooke

Go on an epic journey to the South Pole as a boy tries to take a wandering penguin home, in this heart-warming adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ award-winning children’s story.

‘Once there was a boy and one day, he found a penguin at his door…’

But everyone knows penguins don’t belong in sleepy seaside towns, so what’s the boy to do? Find out where the lost penguin came from and take it home, of course.

Together they embark on an epic journey across the high seas all the way to the South Pole. Encountering many obstacles along the way, the boy realises what he’s really lost… and found.

This magical stage show of Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found has been adapted by renowned children’s TV and theatre producer Will Brenton. Original music composed by Gruff Rhys – who many will know as the guitarist and vocalist of Super Furry Animals as well as for his award-winning film and theatre scores – adds another layer to this moving story.

Featuring puppetry and video projections, a cast of characters that charm and delight, not to mention a gang of rowdy seagulls – expect to laugh and be moved by this touching tale. Full of surprises, you might even be called on to help out from time to time. What will you find?

A combination of rod puppets, hand puppets and full body costume puppets, led by renowned puppetry director and puppeteer, Olly Taylor (Star Wars, Asteroid City), bring the characters from the story to life. The puppets are operated by actors and puppeteers whose costumes, designed by Set and Costume Designer Jean Chan, embody the lost and found elements of the sea, merging, and emerging from the piles of flotsam and jetsam that make up the set.

To watch trailer visit: Visit:

Lost and Found

Aviva Studios, Water Street, Manchester, M3 4JQ

Until 6 January 2024

Standard Tickets £15, £20, £25

Affordable Tickets £7.50, £10, £12.50

Suitable for all ages Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult over 18.

Factory International is the organisation that runs and programmes Manchester International Festival and the landmark new cultural venue, Aviva Studios, a global destination for arts, music, and culture in the heart of Manchester. Built with flexibility in mind, the building is based around large, open, adaptable spaces that can be constantly reconfigured, enabling artists to develop and create large-scale work of invention and ambition of a kind not seen anywhere else in the world. The venue’s development was led by Manchester City Council, with backing of £99.05m from HM Government and £7m National Lottery funding from Arts Council England.


Review by Steve Cooke

History is mainly written about the elite who dominated events and bestrode their eras. Such as Churchill, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Oliver Cromwell. What is in much shorter supply are the stories of the ordinary people who were caught up in these momentous events and whose lives were shaped by the era they lived in.

Bucking this trend and recording the lives of ordinary folk who did extraordinary things is Gary Bridson-Daley with his Debt of Gratitude Project.

Gary has been Working non-stop as a one-man band to find and honour WW2 Veterans throughout the UK, to interview them, record and publish their stories. His tireless work has produced 2 amazing books containing almost a hundred Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Forces, Intelligence and Home Front Civilian WW2 Veterans. A Debt of Gratitude to The Last Heroes (foreword by Dame Vera Lynn) and The Last Stand - Memories of War (foreword by The Last British Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson) that was published in May this year and has now also just been released in December in two 'Special Edition' formats which contain a new D-Day and Arnhem Veteran in time for next year's big 80th Anniversaries and 10,000 words more and additional pictures and illustrations.

Debt of Gratitude is relevant not just during big war anniversaries but is timeless due to what has been captured! The special Editions are in Black and White and Colour and are highly recommended Christmas presents or gifts for anyone at any time who has an interest in World War Two, UK History, history in general and most importantly the ordinary unsung folk who made our history.


[View all Editions whilst on the Amazon page for the new book, look on the right-hand side under the main book title for a link that says - 'See all formats and editions', click on there to look into any of the 3 available versions.]

I first met the impressive Gary Bridson-Daly as he embarked on this vital project and have kept in touch ever since. On a recant catch up he told me, "My work to capture the precious stories of our dwindling World War Two generation as part of my 'Debt of Gratitude Project' still continues, its principle aims being to find, record and capture the vitally important historical testimonies of a generation who very sadly will soon disappear over the horizon of human history, and by being one the few recording as many of these stories as possible to save them for this and future generations, by getting into the public domain through the books I write and feature them in, I feel I am passionately pursuing something very important that can and will benefit many people both now and in the future!

I have now been running my 'Debt of Gratitude Project' for nearly a decade, and have personally funded every aspect of it myself, having used all my savings to do so, having to pay for transport, accommodation, food, and all other related costs in order to reach and be with the Veterans all over the country so that I can personally conduct the interviews and get these gems of stories in little time we have left! I have done over 150 already but have now exhausted all my financial means to continue doing this, and with other interviews lined up I desperately need help with funding to reach these people before it's too late and we lose their stories forever which is why I have launched my GoFund Me Appeal! Any and All help is greatly appreciated."

Gary is local lad, Manchester born, now living in Salford who has written his books here in the North-West and has interviewed a lot of local WW2 Veterans from greater Manchester who are included in both books!

I urge you to give what support you can to this wonderful project to enable Gary keep going as our WW2 Veterans are passing at an alarming rate!


Preview by Steve Cooke

There is a lot to look forward to in 2024 at EBOR.

Farewell Winter Celebration

Feb 17th 4 - 6pm

Bid adieu to the chilly vibes and welcome the warm embrace of spring with Ebor. Procure original artworks and play party games.

Drawing and Sound Workshop

Saturday the 24th of February 10am - 12.30pm

Join Maryanne Royle and Alice Jennings in an instructed workshop exploring soundscape and drawing with all abilities welcome.

Create a playable soundscape in collaboration with other participants on tape with sound artist and cassette tape enthusiast Maryanne Royle using your own sounds.

Then be lead in a drawing session inspired by the soundscape with ceramic artist Alice Jennings.

Open Studio

Saturday the 13th of April 12 - 4pm

Once a year EBOR open their doors so you can meet creative members and see what a real artist studio looks like! They have seventeen studio artists and designers from a wide range of mediums.

A number of EBOR Associate Members will have their work on show in Gallery FRANK.

Associate Members Show 2024

13th of April to the 1st of May

Opening April 13th 12 - 4pm

Ebor Studio, William Street, Littleborough OL15 8JP


Wednesday 03 January 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - creative photography evening.

We meet every Wednesday at Rochdale Unitarian Church, starting at 7.30pm prompt (doors open from 7.15pm). The door is kept locked so please ring the bell on arrival.

If you would like to see the club for yourself and meet our members, you are welcome to attend as our guest for up to 3 weeks before committing to membership. Annual subscription is £36 for single or £46 for joint membership.

A weekly room fee of £2.50 is also payable on arrival at the meeting. Refreshments are 50p.

Visit the link below for a full 2023 syllabus.

£2.50 for room fee

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start.

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP

Until Sunday 07 January 2024

Gallery Exhibitions: Mixed Media

Wardle Art Group - Mixed Media

Most items on display are available to purchase.


Phone: Littleborough Coach House 01706 378481

10am - 3pm

Littleborough Coach House, Lodge Street, Littleborough OL15 9AE

celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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