EVENTS overtook my plans for last week’s blog entry as news broke of the tragic explosion in Shaw.
It was only right at the time to turn my attentions to that – and Oldham Council remains focussed round the clock on assisting the affected residents and the local community to recover. For latest updates visit www.oldham.gov.uk
The following text is what I had originally planned to post about the previous weekend’s activities, which had seen the visit of the Olympic Torch to Oldham, plus the final regional service to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee…
LAST weekend saw Oldham at its best with some fantastic events that not even the torrential rain we endured could dampen.
I went to see the much-awaited Olympic Torch make its way into our little part of the world on Sunday – and I was hugely impressed.
I’m told there were around 20,000 people who made their way out to line the route from Ashton Road to Prince Street and the genuine sense of anticipation – and community spirit – was there for all to see.
The Olympics is a fabulous event which at its best showcases outstanding personal achievement and maximising your potential.
The torch itself has come to symbolise that endeavour for perfection and it certainly seems to capture the public’s imagination wherever it goes.
I went to see its arrival in the town centre and you could barely move in some quarters with, I understand, up to four thousand people there alone. Many had also been there from very early on in the day just to ensure they got a front row seat.
What was really striking was seeing all different schools and community groups from across the Borough: many with homemade banners specially crafted for the event.
There was a real buzz about the place and it was fantastic to see so many families there to enjoy it.
I thought the event was brilliantly organised, which is no mean feat given the numbers of people attending and the physical length of the route.
I’d particularly like to thank all those residents and Oldham Council staff who volunteered their time and commitment to help out on the day.
We had around 100 volunteers come forward and the police said that was by far the biggest in Greater Manchester and they were fulsome in praise of their efforts.
On a sadder note, I was disappointed that the People’s Carnival had to be cancelled on Friday but I totally sympathise with the dilemma the organisers faced given the changeable nature of the weather.
Later on Sunday I also attended a special service at Oldham Parish Church to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Now, putting my cards on the table, I must confess that I’m not a monarchist – however, I do respect the position of the Queen and her contribution to public service.
This service was the final one of ten held across all Greater Manchester authorities and was attended by civic dignitaries, councillors, schools, businesses, volunteers from around the community and members of the public.
A lot of thought had clearly gone into it all – including the presentation of a series of gifts to represent Oldham’s heritage such as a model Lancaster Bomber, a bowler hat, a (Winston Churchill) cigar, a test tube and a computer chip.
I presented a trowel from the 1870s that was used to lay the first foundations of Oldham Parish Church itself.
So the whole weekend really showed to me how the people of Oldham had really got ‘on board’ with these important national events and were extremely proud to be involved.
Whether or not you agree with having a Royal Family or the hosting of the Olympics – and both have their critics, especially during tough economic times – it was hard not to be swept along by the positive vibe and the great sight of seeing so many people enthused by it all.
And on that theme it would be remiss of me to close this week without mentioning the fantastic new ‘Bloom and Grow’ display in the town centre which celebrates both these events.
The spectacular display in Market Place has a huge ‘diamond’ – made from 16 mirrored glass panels – as its centrepiece which also uses the colours of the Olympic flag.
I’m told the bed is made up of 4,899 flowers and that it took 120 hours to grow, construct and plant.
It’s a fantastic piece of work from our Environmental Services team and I’m sure that when the judges for North West in Bloom and Britain in Bloom visit later this summer they cannot fail to be impressed.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please do pay a visit to the town centre to have a look – it is well worth the effort.
Thanks for listening,