Latest News

Telling Millie’s story again

When I was told that Millie O'Shea had been diagnosed with cancer again I was devastated. I was the news editor of the Rossendale Free Press when I first learnt about Millie, she was only three then and had been diagnosed with a Wilm's Tumour and I met the family...

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Welcome To My New Look Website

I am delighted to be back! I certainly never went away, but my website went a dormant while this fantastic new one was being created. A huge thank you to Les Dundas Web Design Services for all the work he has put into creating this site. I am pleased that now viewers...

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Thank you for the business

A massive thank you to everyone who has employed me since January, this has been my busiest year to date. Without doubt the success I am most proud of is Fearns Chat, my flagship school newspaper, winning the national Shine Media Award for best newspaper in the...

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Teenager comes to fall woman’s aid

This would have ordinarily been a Good Samaritan story however it developed into much more when, even though 15-year-old Millie was helping a pensioner, a man chose to criticise her school. Head Girl at Fearns Community Sports College had done what other passersby...

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Wonderful Weir

This is a complete departure from my normal work blog, I took this photograph to illustrate the amazing work being carried out by volunteers in my home village. This was a voluntary piece of work to praise the dedicated members of Weir Pride, a community group set up...

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Soup Social for M3 Project

Homeless charity M3 Project set up a fundraising idea to encourage people to host a Big Soup Social to get people together and raise money and awareness of the organisation. I have worked for M3 for several years to raise awareness of the charity and I specialise in...

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UPDATED School Newspaper WINS National Media Final

Unashamedly proud. It is fair to say that pretty much sums up my feelings and this story. WE WON. In 2009, when I was the News Editor at the Rossendale Free Press I made a suggestion to the editor that the paper work with a high school to produce a newspaper. There...

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Caring sister sheds locks after brother diagnosed

A teenager whose younger brother is currently being treated for leukaemia will be having her waist-length hair cut to make wigs for children who have lost their hair to cancer. Bryony Booth is also raising money for the Ronald McDonald Charities because her family...

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Turbine blades spin off in Storm Barbara

When a wind turbine shed its blades in Weir and a dog walker recounted hearing and seeing the incident as he was nearby, my story was used by the Daily Mail. The turbine, which is in a field above a remote village in Weir, embedded itself in a nearby field and...

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12-hours on the front line

I was very fortunate to be offered the chance to join a paramedic on a 12-hour ambulance shift to discover just what pressures staff are working under. Although it got off to a slow start, things quickly picked up and it ended up with a non-stop day after 11am. At one...

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Hyperthyroidism and me – Blogs 1,2 and 3

This is a departure from my usual updates on my business, it is what journalists hate to do most of all, writing about themselves. I have chosen to write this blog because someone out there is going through exactly what I am; they have an undiagnosed overactive...

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Big Issue features day in the life of GP

After spending a day with a GP Practice in Haslingden, my feature was used by the Big Issue North over three pages with four photographs. I was very lucky to be invited to join the practice by my good friend Dr Abdul Mannan and the patients were most gracious in...

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National Recognition for School Paper

A state school newspaper produced in just one week was highly commended in the national Shine School Media Awards. Fearns Chat has been produced by since 2009, at first as an insert in the Rossendale Free Press when I was still news editor. After redundancy, it has...

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Veteran’s Dutch Medal of Honour

Despatch Rider Lewis Banham spent the Second World War in Europe bravely delivering messages to troops on the front line. Now, more than 70 years later, he has been rewarded with the Dutch Liberation Medal for helping to free the Netherlands. The 94-year-old was also...

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Blog 4 – Hyperthyroidism

Here is the latest instalment in my bizarre experience of being diagnosed with Graves' Disease. As I await my next appointment with the consultant, I have endured yet another blood fiasco. You really couldn't make it up. Undeterred I succeeded in getting the...

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Raising Awareness of CRPS – Jack’s story

CRPS - Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is an often misunderstood condition leaving the patient in excruciating pain with symptoms no one can see. Having interviewed Jack and his younger brother Jayden in the past about their dancing, I had already formed a bond with...

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Deaf tutor’s plea to have language heard

While Scottish and Welsh Gaelic are accepted minority languages, British Sign Language is not. As a result, when a deaf person needs to have an interpreter they can find that their 'voice' is someone with nothing more that a GCSE qualification in their language. Deaf...

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School Papers Take Off

When I first started Catherine Smyth Media in 2009, my USP was creating newspapers in schools. Since then I have developed the programme to produce papers in a day, over a week, to cover a term or half term. Now I have gone back to the future - by that I mean that my...

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Blog 5 – Hyperthyroidism

Good news! I have waited quite a while to feel so upbeat and feel like I have been waiting years to be so positive. An optimist always looks on the bright side of life and yet I feel as though I have been stuck at the bottom of a very dark hole. Like the frog in the...

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2016 – thank you for the business

This year has been a phenomenally successful one for my business with the highlight most definitely jointly winning the Sole Trader of the Year Award at Rossendale Business Awards in November. I am known for words, but I also take the odd photograph including two that...

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Blog 6 – Hyperthyroidism

My journey through Graves Disease continues as sadly I have not succeeded in conquering the dreaded illness yet. I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid gland in February and have been making regular trips to the consultant and doctor's surgery for blood tests ever...

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Winner of Sole Trader 2016 – ME!

I knew I had been shortlisted but nevertheless it still comes as a shock to be announced as the winner. Indeed I shared the honours with my friend Liz Hall from Liz Henson Photography, but that seemed to make a lot of sense. We do a lot of collaborative work as is...

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Eco Home Built By Pensioners

Artist Chris Worswick and her husband Paul decided five years ago to build their own home and now, aged 70 and 71 they are settling in nicely. This rather unusual story was commissioned by Lancashire Life and provided another opportunity for me to work with Liz Henson...

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Kindle Deal on Sophie Lancaster Book

Throughout the month of October, Amazon Kindle has selected my book The Sophie Lancaster Story to become one of its special deals to be promoted to UK readers. Since the book was relaunced on St George's Day in April, it has been an incredible success and I am...

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Blog 7 Hyperthyroidism – operation approaches

So this week was the anniversary of my official Graves Diagnosis. A reason to cheer and celebrate? Hardly. A reason to reflect? Yes. My pre-op is on April 3 with the removal of my thyroid scheduled for mid-April, hopefully will not be delayed. Recovery - at least 10...

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Blog 8 – Operation over!

So that's it - all done. The butterfly shaped gland that caused me so much trouble has now been incinerated and I doubt I will ever know why I joined this merry-go-round. My thyroid has, I am guessing, been incinerated and with its removal from my body I have switched...

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Blog 9 – six months on and going strong

What a six months it has been since I was operated on and my thyroid disappeared into an incinerator.I have written this reflective piece because it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride but I hope an inspirational one too. The blog is printed below or click the...

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Trike Appeal’s Astonishing Success

When Haslingden High School set about trying to get an all terrain mountain trike to aid a student's mobility, more than 3,500 pounds was raised in just a few weeks after excellent publicity was achieved. Sam Ainsworth has Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, an inherited...

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Pupils Become Junior Journalists

Ten pupils, one week, 11,000 words and 16 pages; that in a nutshell is the latest edition of Fearns Chat. Every year since I started working for myself, I have spent a whole week at Fearns Community Sports College, Stacksteads, producing the school newspaper. The...

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The Sophie Lancaster Story

A chance offer to rebrand, relaunch and update my book on the murder of Sophie Lancaster has had an incredible response. The original book was published in 2010 under the title Weirdo Mosher Freak, the new version The Sophie Lancaster Story, has been updated to bring...

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Andy Succeeds In Unfair Dismissal Claim

When businessman Andy Davies was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, his working life was obviously affected, but he didn't expect his career to be over. He took his former bosses to a tribunal and won, although he is still awaiting payment from the company's insurers...

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Artist Leaves Her Mark On School

Artist Laura Doherty has so far painted five of her former classrooms with giganitic murals bringing history, English and music to life. The former Haslingden High School student painted her first classroom when she was 16 and, after finishing her A levels, she was...

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Plucky Francesca Plans 10k

Deciding to take on a 10k can be an ordeal for most people, but when you are a wheelchair user it brings a host of other complications. But Francesca Dean doesn't know the word can't and will not let anything stop her from doing what she wants. I first met Francesca...

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(updated 27 April 2016) Sophie Lancaster Book reviews etc

Catherine Smyth's book on the murder of Sophie Lancaster - the 'Goth girl' kicked to death by teenagers because she dressed differently- has been sold internationally. 2016 APRIL: Weirdo Mosher Freak has now been rebranded The Sophie Lancaster Story and is being sold...

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Off the wall photography plan

Actress Stacey Clegg has had a dream for many years to celebrate her brother's short life by creating photographs to depict Michael Jackson songs. The story was an unusual one given the tragic circumstances of her brother's death following a road accident when both...

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Roy thanks his rescuers

When an elderly gentleman collapsed in Rawtenstall three teenagers were quick to come to his aid. The Haslingden High School students helped the pensioner, tended to his injuries and comforted him while help was sought. Their bravery was rewarded with a thank you...

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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. Nathan Bibby also assists schools to apply for the prestigious Sainsbury's Schools...

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The Broadway Buzz Here to Stay

A one-off newspaper produced in four weeks proved so popular the school has decided it should be produced every half-term. The first edition of The Broadway Buzz sold very well, so well the school in Haslingden had decided to continue the sessions each half-term to...

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Five Generations at Same Dance School

From 87-year-old Elsie down to little two-year-old toddler Scarlett, five generations of the same family now dance at Dansworks Dance Academy in Bacup. I have been working for Dansworks on an ad hoc basis since 2011 and this was a charming story to write. Principal...

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School Paper Gets National Recognition

This year's Fearns Chat has just been completed - a hectic week with 13 Year 9 pupils writing, photographing and designing a 16-page newspaper to shout about the busy year that there has been at Fearns Community Sports College. Last year's version was among 200...

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Student’s GCSE Success Despite Father in Coma

This was an inspirational story about the success of a GCSE student from Whitworth Community High School who even revised on the ward where her father was seriously ill. It has been a turbulent year for Nicola Howorth after her father was left seriously ill following...

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First World War Project Finishes

A project to formally mark the graves of soldiers from Bacup who gave their lives concluded with a ceremony attended by 100 people at a hilltop cemetery. Members of Veterands In Communities, one my contracts, have been carrying out the work since last year, locating...

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Teen Scales Kilimanjaro With Dad

Not many teenagers scale the highest peak in Africa, but that is just what Isobel Wilson did. The 17-year-old student from Haslingden High School, where I have a contract to provide press and PR coverage, hiked to the top of the mountain with her father, a school...

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Jumper Record Makes National News

An incredible 1,431 people wore Christmas jumpers in the same place at the same time at Haslingden High School in a world record bid. A festive story to end what has been a busy year and, thanks to superb photographs taken by Liz Henson Photography, the story broke...

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Sylvia Lancaster visits Fearns

The mother of murdered 'Goth' Sophie Lancaster delivered a hard hitting talk to pupils at Fearns Community Sports College, Stacksteads. Sylvia Lancaster also met three pupils who have written news articles for an Amnesty International competition to highlight the...

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Brit nominee makes pupil’s day

Brit award nominee John Newman made a high school pupil's day when he took time out from a gig to autograph her project about him and he gave her a hug. Shannon Cokell's mum Terry grew up in the village of Stainton in North Yorkshire where John is from and, as...

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Catering manager switches uniforms

Catering manager Iain Campbell will be swapping kitchen whites for combats when he takes on a key role in a major Royal Navy operation. The Royal Navy reservist is catering manager at Haslingden High School where Catherine Smyth has a press and PR contract.. A story...

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Awesome Design

The final story for Enterprising People in Ribble Valley was a lovely tale about an inspirational autistic man who creates craft bags and sells them worldwide. Catherine Smyth has been working with EPRV for the past year reporting on the many success stories of the...

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Stolen sculpture back on patrol after going AWOL

A willow soldier who was stolen from Whitworth was found hidden under bushes in Heywood and is now back on patrol. Catherine Smyth works for Veterans In Communities and the story of the willow tank and soldier - made by a veteran and VIC member to commemorate the...

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Prince’s Trust aid veterans

Teenagers joined forces with veterans to uncover the hidden graves of First World War soldiers who are remembered in Bacup Cemetery. Catherine Smyth has a contract with Rossendale-based charity Veterans In Communities and wrote a news story about the work and also...

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Double trouble in primary class

Teachers at a primary school have been seeing double with nearly half of the Year 6 class being twins. Catherine was introduced to the amazing Year 6 class at St Anne's C of E School, Waterfoot, when she produced a school newspaper St Anne's Press last month. The...

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James is Mini marvel

At just 12, James Newton has already designed several new Mini cars and is in regular contact with the BMW Mini designers. As a reward for his efforts James, and his family, were given a VIP tour of the plant in Oxford and free use of a Mini Countryman for a week....

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Historic Middleton opens its doors

When you come to thinking about historical towns it is not often you would consider Middleton and yet there are four buildings in the 'old Lancashire' town that are steeped in history. Each September they co-ordinate their opening times to give everyone a chance to...

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Fancy a cuppa?

Students with learning difficulties are gaining work experience in their own cafe attached to their school where they get the chance to serve members of the public. I was asked to help promote for The Garage Cafe at Tor View Special School in Haslingden and a lovely...

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Salon is a cut above the rest

A ten month piece of work has come to the end this month with the prestigious presentation evening for Rossendale Business Awards. Taking the top prize was Tufties Hair and Beauty in Rawtenstall. The business faced a challenging year after taking over a former pub,...

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WWI history comes to life

Local history group Bacup Natural History Society asked for help in promoting an exciting new venture funded by a National Lottery Heritage Grant. Historian Wendy Lord researched the Fern Hill Auxiliary Hospital used in the First World War to treat injured servicemen....

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Homeless man’s death – serious case review

A vulnerable homeless man's body lay undiscovered for four days after two local councils refused to offer him a bed for the night. He only had a room to sleep in because a homeless project in Harrogate paid for a hotel. The project did not think it right that 'Robert'...

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Veteran mystery solved

Veterans turned detective to solve the mystery of a soldier whose name appeared on a World War II roll of honour but nothing was known about him. All the other 110 names had full details of rank, age at time of death, place of death and whether they were married, but...

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Performance poet relives homeless past

When he became homeless in the late 1980s David R Mellor picked up a pen and began writing poetry. When he finally got settled he returned to school to educate himself then qualified as a social worker and he began performing his poems on stage. Catherine Smyth was...

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Teachers’ wax legs for charity

Brave teachers at Fearns Community Sports College put their best legs forward, then endured the pain while their hairs were ripped out using hot wax. It was all in the name of charity and the school's efforts on the day raised £1,000 for Comic Relief. Catherine Smyth...

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Dementia choir hits high notes

When a choir for people who have dementia was set up, organisers were delighted when its membership soared by a third in just a month. Catherine Smyth has a PR contract with REAL who helped to set up the choir with Crossroads. It now meets every Wednesday in...

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CAB helps couple reclaim £9,000

When a Whitworth couple found themselves in financial strife after redundancy, Rossendale Citizens' Advice Bureau helped them to reclaim nearly £9,000. They are now debt free - something that would not have happened had it not been for the actions of the CAB....

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Businesses honoured with ‘Oscars’

Rossendale's answer to the 'Oscars' were presented to top businesses at a prestigious ceremony. Catherine Smyth was employed by Valley At Work to promote the event in through a series of articles starting back in June and culminating in a double page spread in the...

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OBE for outstanding head

The recently retired headteacher of Haslingden High School has been awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list. Eve Challinger was head of the Rossendale high school until August 2011 and led it to become an 'outstanding' school by Ofsted standards. To read more...

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Sky comedy based in Valley

A Rawtenstall salon was recreated for a hit Sky1 HD comedy Little Crackers starring the Valley's own Jane Horrocks. The production was based around a true story of a hair encounter when Rawtenstall-born Jane wanted to emulate her idol Barbra Streisand and against her...

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Falklands veteran finds hope in art

A Falklands veteran besieged by memories of the conflict has found new hope thanks to art. Darren Horsnell turned his life around from being homeless and suicidal to being engaged and now helping others to explore art and looking forward to a brighter future. A story...

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Investigation into Capita and Equita

An investigation into the potential conflict of interest of having a bailiff company owned by the same business outsourced to collect council tax featured as the three-page splash in the Big Issue In The North on March 26. The freelance investigation, carried out by...

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Winning wellies fit for Glastonbury

A stunning pair of wellies designed by a pupil from Fearns Community Sports College won a competition and could be picked to be sold nationally. Courtney-Lea Reader, 13, designed the wellies for the festival range sold by the national competition by retail giant...

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Bacup teen to play at Royal Albert Hall

Seventeen-year-old Luke Dempsey will be playing in the prestigious Proms concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Luke, from Bacup, has been playing cornet since he was eight is principal cornet player with 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band. Aged just 12 he played a...

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Baby boom centre’s national recognition

A children's centre that received national praise has seen a baby boom among staff with a fifth expecting or recently giving birth. Haslingden Community Link combines childcare and parent craft activities with a community centre and cafe meeting the needs of all ages...

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Veteran prosecuted over benefits

When a veteran was told he had claimed money he was not entitled to he agreed to pay it back - yet he was still prosecuted. Amputee Craig Howorth, from Bacup, was told that he could remortgage his house to repay the cash in a lump sum, even though he had agreed a...

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Cadets poppy appeal success

For the second year running the Royal British Legion in Greater Manchester has employed Catherine Smyth Media to publicise their record breaking Poppy Appeal. This year the cadets final total showed a 10 per cent increase on the figures for 2009. A release was written...

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Ombudsman raps council bailiffs

A DETERMINED dad who battled a bailiff bill and won, has finally received an apology from Rossendale Council after taking the matter to the ombudsman. As a result of James Howson's actions, the ombudsman decided some charges made were 'unreasonable' and had been...

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Legal action threat forces CAB grant rethink

A DETERMINED resident threatened legal action after a health body announced plans to scrap vital funding of Rossendale Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB). Rawtenstall resident Miranda Owen pursued a Judicial Review of the East Lancashire Teaching Primary Care Trust’s (PCT)...

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Funky Feet Jayden’s dance success

Young Dancer Jayden Leigh has shown he is a little star when it comes to street dance. Despite being born with club foot which is still being treated with splints and boots, he has passed his first exam at Dansworks Dance Academy. A news story and photographs by...

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Bailiff’s bill scrapped thanks to CAB

A young couple who succeeded in getting a bailiff bill scrapped are urging others not to give in to 'bullying' tactics. Kerry and Kieran Hanson made every effort to sort out their council tax arrears after a bank mistake left them owing Rossendale Council. Although...

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Community hub wins award

A church that has been transformed into a busy community hub is celebrating after winning a Lancashire wide award. St Anne's Church, Edgeside, won the Lancashire Environmental Fund Best Practice in a Community Building and as part of the contract with Rossendale...

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Valley to be veterans’ charity new base

A national charity for veterans is seeking to open a drop-in centre to serve ex-soldiers from around the north west. As part of the PR contract with REAL, Catherine Smyth Media produced a news article and photograph about Helmshore ex-soldier Steve Carr who is helping...

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Teachers learn lessons in Uganda

Two teachers from Fearns Community Sports College, in Stacksteads, found an impact holiday to Uganda led them to life changing experiences. Emma Sweeney and Charlotte Walsh spent 10 days in Uganda encoutering the hardships and savouring the rewards as they helped to...

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Residents scoop £50k for park

A dedicated residents' association has been awarded nearly £50,000 of lottery cash to create a new play area. As part of Catherine Smyth Media's ongoing contract with REAL, a PR piece was written to help promote the cash and also to assist in publicising an online...

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Animated author enthrals pupils

Horror story writer Tommy Donbavand captivated children from Fearns Community Sports College when he spoke to Year 7s. His series Scream Street were books several of the children had already followed and his latest and last book in the series Flame of the Dragon was...

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Bacup dance duo are national champs

Street Dancers from Bacup's Dansworks Dance Academy wowed the judges and scooped top honours in a national competition. The duo, Jacob Ainsworth and Heathcliff Howard, performed at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool in the prestigious UDO National School' Street Dance...

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School charity champs win national acclaim

A CARING team from Haslingden High School has won through to the final of a national competition for schools who raise money for charity. The group will enjoy a VIP trip of London before receiving their award at The Treasury from Nick Hurd MP Minister for the Civil...

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Young Alex is a sign of the times

LITTLE Alex Wilson is notching up a vocabulary of 200 words – aged just two years old. The Helmshore youngster took part in a pioneering new project which teaches babies aged from just seven months old how to communicate using sign language. And it has had such a big...

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National final for girls’ footballers

A team from Haslingden High School are in the national football final, Read More http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Lancashire/Rossendale/BB4/News/Local-News/162053-Haslingden-High-School-Girls-Score-Again

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Blind conductor leads band on tour

After losing his sight, Graham Helm refused to allow him to stop conducting 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band. He led them on a nine-day 13 concert tour in July and August, The freelance news story made page 3 of the Rossendale Free Press. Read...

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Sophie Lancaster Book

Catherine Smyth has written a book about the brutal murder of Sophie Lancaster. This was a crime that shocked the small town of Bacup, the borough of Rossendale and through the global Internet became an internationally known crime. The book raises questions that...

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SOPHIE game launched

A game in memory of murdered Haslingden High School student Sophie Lancaster has been launched at her former school. The game, SOPHIE - standing for Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere was, aims to teach children to not judge a person by how they...

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Inspirational mum’s baby signing business success

When businesswoman Julie Ryder became deaf she turned her disability into ability and pioneered a baby signing business. TalkFirst now has franchisees all over the country who run classes using the colourful Dexter jester character to help children learn to...

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