YOU CAN’T have missed the glorious sight of a rather unfamiliar yellow dot in the sky in recent days.
Summer, it seems, is here at last and with it comes a dizzying array of events and opportunities all across the borough.
There’s already so much summer-related activity going on that it’s hard to keep track of it all – and there’s no excuse for staying at home.
In the coming days alone I’m aware of street parties planned for the Queen’s 90th birthday, Failsworth Carnival, the East Oldham Games at Stoneleigh Park, the visit of the Tour De Manc through Saddleworth, Dr Kershaw’s Summer Fair and events joining the national The Big Lunch on Sunday. And we’re not even into the school holiday periods yet…
This summer our major focus is on health and wellbeing and encouraging people to get active.
We’re blessed to have some fantastic natural assets here in Oldham and are working with our partners to encourage people to get out and about and enjoy them.
Exercise is an extremely important part of our lives. It keeps our hearts healthy, reduces our risk of serious illness and strengthens muscles and bones.
But visiting places and meeting new people is equally beneficial for your wellbeing – strengthening your social networks and confidence – and we’ve got 32 local parks and green spaces to help everyone do that.
You can have a wander around my personal favourite, for example, the ‘jewel in the crown’ that is Alexandra Park, where you can cool down in the paddling pool or challenge the family to a game of tennis.
Foxdenton Park is perfect for a kickabout with its two football pitches, and the kids can also burn off energy in the play area or enjoy a walk in the woodland and sensory garden.
Dove Stone reservoir is also a favourite family option where you can get close to nature on a stroll, or you could take your bikes along the paths of Leesbrook Nature Park in the heart of the Medlock Valley.
To find out more about our great outdoor spaces visit our Parks webpage here. And if you are looking for further inspiration for fun-filled games and activities for your little ones then it’s well worth looking at the Change4Life programme here.
Floral displays are, of course, an important part of our summer campaign which we know our residents love to see.
But the impact of our annual Bloom and Grow campaign is not just visual – it’s about much more than flowers, beautiful though they are.
It’s about taking and enjoying a co-operative approach to improving our environment: with the whole community working together to improve towns and districts.
Our environmental services team do a fantastic job but Bloom and Grow’s real strength lies in your participation as a resident, school, business or community group.
It’s great for civic pride and it also plays a vital role in educating people how to play their own small part to help keep our borough looking beautiful, clean and attractive to all who live and work here.
If you’ve visited Oldham town centre in recent days you’ve probably noticed that preparations are getting underway on our latest showcase ‘WOW’ bed display in High Street.
That display will be the centrepiece of this year’s campaign in which we’re bidding for double ‘gold’.
Firstly, we’re taking part in North West in Bloom again and aiming to repeat last year’s success when we won ‘Best City’ (we are in this category based on population size) for the sixth year in a row.
But we are also the regional representatives in that category in this year’s Britain in Bloom – which we won in 2012 and 2014.
For a town like Oldham to be beating off competition from places like Chester and Westminster in that field speaks volumes about the success of our collective efforts, and our aspirations as a place.
I’m not able to give any secrets away while our team continue preparing their latest horticultural masterpiece, but it’s safe to say it will again be worth the wait when we reveal all.
There are also six local competitions that we’re encouraging all our green-fingered residents and businesses to get involved in.
We’re asking budding photographers to get snapping with your phones and capture the best the borough has to offer. There have already been some brilliant snaps sent in – and in the first month alone we’ve had more than 450 entries.
You don’t need to be an expert and the winner will get £200, plus the chance for your work to be admired by every local resident in a future edition of Borough Life.
By way of inspiration for you, we’ve just finished our Young Photographers’ competition which was won by a wonderful picture of a ‘Tawny Owlet’ taken by Ellia Rhodes, aged 11, from Grasscroft (pictured below).
There are also competitions still open for the ‘Best Blooming’ businesses, pubs, restaurants and private gardens. You can find out more here
Finally, I couldn’t blog this week without mentioning National Carers Week.
As I know from personal experience there are few more worthy causes than this to highlight.
Carers need and deserve our support and they can access a range of assistance and information.
Oldham Carer’s Services are there for unpaid carers looking after a partner, family member or friend who could not manage without their help. They can provide information about health issues, entitlements, mobility, equipment, volunteering opportunities, individual budgets, rights and employment issues. You can find out more and contact the service here.
We have many fantastic people here who are essentially an unpaid army of carers for some of our most vulnerable elderly and disabled people.
We should take pride in their efforts and be grateful for the fantastic contribution they are making to their families and local communities.
I am personally determined that we continue to work hard to make Oldham a caring town – one that recognises those who need help most, and highlights the amazing people who help deliver it for them.