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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


 previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke





The power of creativity and community celebrated as Riverside Writers is shortlisted for the 2024 Creative Lives Awards

By Steve Cooke

Rochdale’s Riverside Writers has been shortlisted for the 2024 Creative Lives Awards.

The awards shine a spotlight on the amazing creativity taking place in local communities.

34 creative groups shortlisted from across England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Voting now open for public to choose winner of People’s Choice Award, so let’s get voting for our own Riverside Writers.

Winners are to be announced at Awards Ceremony in London on Thursday 26 September 2024

From murals, mosaics and movement, to pantomime, poetry and photography, Creative Lives is celebrating the everyday creativity of groups from across the UK and Ireland through this year’s Creative Lives Awards.

Riverside Writers is a creative writing group that meets weekly in Rochdale. All writers aged over 18, are very welcome to attend their sessions and all genres of creative writing are encouraged.

In 2024 Riverside Writers has created and maintained its own website and has delivered workshop sessions on a range of topics relating to the culture and customs of our area in order to create a knowledge of and pride in our heritage.

The group also created workshops to help members develop new techniques, genres and styles in their writing.

Riverside Writers has written for the Manchester City of Literature Festival of Libraries and is currently preparing for our Festival of Summer following a very successful first event in 2023.

The group is proud to announce that Mr William Pollard, the writer of the biography of M.R. Lahee the lost Rochdale Poet, will be speaking at the festival. The festival will bring together, not only Riverside Writers writers and poets, but also local community groups including musicians, clogdancers, a ukulele band and the U3A choir. The event will be followed by an open-mic session for those who are still standing.

This year one member is the recipient of the Presidents Cup for poetry by the Edwin Waugh Society.

Judging panels from each nation will choose a winner for England, Ireland & Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, while members of the public can vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice Awards.

Voting in the People’s Choice Award is open until 29 July 2024. To learn more about the shortlisted projects and to cast your vote, please visit

Winners will be announced at the Creative Lives Awards ceremony in Cecil Sharp House, London on 26 September 2024, partnering with the Everyday Creativity Research Network conference. Winners will receive a bespoke award, framed certificate, cash prize and access to support and training.


FRAG [Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery] Talk by Harry Meadley

Review by Dr Joe Dawson


FRAG (Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery) has been continuing whilst Touchstones is being renovated, thanks to the generous hospitality of Rochdale Music Service. The latest talk in their series was by long-term friend of the Friends, Leeds-based artist Harry Meadley.


Do you remember the Touchstones project ‘But What if we Tried …’ in 2019, where Harry challenged staff to show as much of the art gallery collection as possible? And later ‘Free For All’ in 2022, where the galleries were handed over to the community? A tremendous amount of exciting work flowed from these initiatives as well as new visitors flowed into Touchstones.

The latter project has been documented by Harry in a colourful and fascinating illustrated booklet with the same title. It shows a wide range of involvement and production outside traditional norms. Such as ‘Letting the kids loose’ and ‘Family Do instead of a Private View’. It also contains a painstaking evaluation that displays considerable self-appraisal and assessment.


A fresh input of creative energy is already activating the community, which augers well for the reopening of Touchstones next year. It will be fascinating to see the results.

The questions and insights gained from talks like this and the stimulating discussion that ensued are some of the principal purposes of FRAG.


Thursday 11 July 2024 FRAG’s next talk will be given by Touchstones’ new Heritage Coordinator Laura Mansfield on plans for the new Dining Room space that will form part of the new building. This will be an area dedicated to our collections and community through the theme of food. Laura will be working with many different community members to uncover shared stories that bring us together. There will also be a chance to meet one of the commissioned artists who will be working on the project.


Venue - Rochdale Music Service, 7-11 The Butts Rochdale OL16 1XT

Every second Thursday in the month 13:00 arrival downstairs - 13:30-14:30 meeting upstairs

Annual Subscription £10 - Entry £4 (members £3)





Saturday 29 June 2024

Summer Serenade

Join our award-winning society for an evening of your favourite melodies.

Featuring hits from ABBA to Gilbert and Sullivan there is sure to be something for everyone as we sing all your favourite songs!


Phone: Penny Lydiate 07761 116304


Bamford Chapel, Norden Road, Bamford OL11 5PQ


Sunday 30 June 2024

Eid Extravaganza

Springhill Hospice presents a community Eid Extravaganza.

Join them to celebrate Eid Ul Adha in their first ever Eid celebration event.

Delicious food stalls, face painting, henna, arts and crafts activities, games and a bouncy castle.

Fun for all of the family.

Free but charges for some stalls/activities.

Phone: Jo Ali 01706 641 790


Deeplish Community Centre, 59 Hare Street, Rochdale OL11 1JT


Sunday 30 June 2024

Alkrington Village Craft Market

Pop along and support your local small businesses and community.

With over 30 stalls we have a fantastic range of brilliant crafters selling their handmade and unique crafts not available on the high street.

Free entry and hot food and refreshments available.

We have free customer parking outside Alkrington Community Centre, plus additional parking outside Tesco Mainway Alkrington.

Phone: Lee Yates 07807 457 703

11am - 4pm

Alkrington Community Centre, Hardfield Road, Alkrington, Middleton M24 1TQ


Wednesday 03 July 2024

Rochdale Photographic Society

Tonight's session - Movement photography with Gee (Dancer)

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 2024 syllabus.

£2.50 for room fee

Doors open 7.15pm, 7.30pm start

Rochdale Unitarian Church, Clover Street, Rochdale OL12 6TP

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


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