Schools' sporting success

At one of my contract schools - Fearns Community Sports College - the borough's school sports organiser is based to encourage primary schools to participate in sporting competitions.

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Nathan Bibby also assists schools to apply for the prestigious Sainsbury's Schools Games Mark, a recognition of not just PE in school but the integration of sport across the curriculum. Even though only three per cent of schools in the country achieve gold - two in Rossendale made the grade at the first attempt.

I attended both schools with Nathan, interviewed teachers and pupils and took photographs and the story was used in the Lancashire Telegraph and on the Rossendale Free Press website.

BBC Radio Lancashire also visited one of the schools to deliver a series of live broadcasts. Presenter Sally Naden interviewed pupils, parents and staff.

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OTHER NEWS

With five contracts and numerous ad hoc jobs it has been a hectic time since my last blog.

Starting with school contracts: at Haslingden High, as a follow up to the story last month about a student having her hair cut to make wigs for children with cancer, her form tutor decided to copy her. Other stories that made the press include students winning an essay competition held in memory of a talented former student who died suddenly, a cross country champ that went on to a national final and a trampolinist who also represented the school in a national final. Many more stories feature on the school website.

Moving on to Fearns the school has also made the press with a Battlefields trip made by pupils, a Masterchef competition where the pupils were third, a hectic careers event, a karate champ who is in with a chance to represent England and the school raising money for charity. The Local Journal used my story about Veterans In Communities member Darren Horsnell recounting his wartime experiences.

My new school Whitworth High had stories in the Rochdale Observer, Lancashire Telegraph and Rossendale Free Press as well as on Rochdale Online. These include students on a skiing trip, a Battlefields tour, going to hear the Halle in Manchester and a student who took on the adults in a badminton competition and finished runner-up twice.

Veterans In Communities helped a former soldier who was living in unsuitable conditions and ended up homeless to relocate into a bungalow. The story made page leads in the Free Press and Lancashire Telegraph. The monthly four page newsletter was also produced. The Local Journal and Rossendale Free Press also used the story of VIC gaining a crew bus funded by the Ministry of Defence.

At JJO - another new contract - a four-page newsletter has been written in time to be printed by the end of the month. I also arranged for BBC Radio Lancashire's Sally Naden also visited JJO to interview apprentices at the warehouse for National Apprentice Week.

Ad hoc jobs included an appeal for funds to help abandoned puppies, a news story about successful businesswoman Christine Smith who won the Outstanding Achievement Award from The Body Shop and a quirky story for Antony and Patricia's about a customer who has travelled nearly 10,000 miles to get her haircut each month.

Moo's Mens Gent's Hairdressers are raising money for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation by raffling a huge teddy bear and called me in to write a story and an internet business that has now opened a showroom lifestylish.com also asked me to help publicise the opening. These stories have been published on Valley at Work and hopefully will appear in print.

I have also conducted five interviews for Community First Responders to encourage people to join the lifesaving group. Three have already been published, a further one will be in the press on March 20 with the last scheduled for April 3. The Local Journal also featured a full page on the Responders.

At the end of March I will have concluded a series of four newspaper club sessions with pupils at Broadway Primary School to complete a school newspaper. I also produced the second newsletter for the M3 Project in Rawtenstall - a homeless charity working with 16-25 year olds.

On top of everything I also had a freelance news story in the Big Issue In The North about a father calling for an overhaul of the family court system after spending £60,000 securing acceptable access to his children and facing a barage of unsubstantiated accusations.

As my year end approaches in April, I am delighted to say it has been a busy and rewarding year's work.

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