The week in good news: a community garden, a Manchester monologue and the ultimate gift


Summer days seem to be over for now, and many of us found ourselves suddenly remembering we live in Manchester. The downside to this? The weather. The upside? The people – who are the best in the world according to local golden boy Anthony Crolla.

This week’s good news celebrates people’s community spirit, their talent and compassion.

Because good news comes in threes, and Mondays don’t have to be blue.

A garden for Lancashire inspired by Tony Walsh

The Willow Garden Project in Fleetwood, Lancashire, has been selected to receive the BBC North West Tonight Garden from this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show at Tatton Park, supported by Bruntwood.

All applicants had to explain what receiving the garden would mean to the area, and the local charity has been chosen out of 25 entries.

Based in a deprived area of Fleetwood, the charity was started in 2012 by Pam Laird and has developed into a multifunctional community garden, maintained by over 40 people with different disabilities and mental health needs.

Besides the fact that it allows people to enjoy gardening and horticulture, The Willow Garden Project offers a sense of community to local schools, scouts and other groups who are invited to use the space and take part in weekly workshops.

This year, the BBC North West Tonight’s Garden for the flower show is inspired by the poem Up ‘ere by Manchester-based writer and performer Tony Walsh. The poem praises the North West’s strength and resilience following the tragic Arena bombing in May last year.

The garden has been designed by multi-award-winning local designer Janine Crimmins, who wanted it to be a place of serenity. It will feature a wealth of iconic North West elements, including carved images of the Manchester bee and poignant words from Up ‘ere engraved on locally sourced stone.

“We are absolutely over the moon to receive the garden and to be part of its build at RHS Tatton Park,” said Pam Laird, creator of the Willow Garden Project.

“To be able to bring one of the gardens back with us is such an honour, especially one with such a meaningful message attached. Truly wonderful.”

The RHS Flower Show is at Tatton Park from 18th-22nd July.


A talent search marking the centenary of women’s votes

BBC Radio Manchester and the Royal Exchange Theatre have joined forces to launch a talent search for writers to mark 100 years since the first women got the vote.

Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Manchester Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and Jo Bell, the UK’s first Canal Laureate, will judge the entries written on the theme of women and the future.

Accomplished or aspiring writers are asked to submit a Manchester monologue – a single voice piece written for performance, be it a script, spoken word or poetry – that looks to the future for women. The monologues should have a Greater Manchester connection.

“We are proud to be launching this talent search with the Royal Exchange Theatre, culminating with a public performance for many to enjoy,” said Kate Squire, Managing Editor of BBC Radio Manchester.

“I’m confident we will receive some highly creative and unique pieces of original writing which will aptly reflect the centenary of the women’s vote. We are looking for the strength of the character’s voice in the monologues based on the themes of women and the future.

Anyone with a passion for storytelling and for women’s rights should give it a go – I’m already looking forward to reading the entries.”

“Supporting new writing and championing the power of women’s voices sits at the heart of what we do here at the Exchange, so I’m thrilled that we are joining BBC Radio Manchester to search for a ‘Manchester monologue’ inspired by the daring determination of Emmeline Pankhurst,” said Sarah Frankcom, Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how writers across Manchester choose to interpret the theme of Women and the Future and cannot wait to hear the five winning entries performed on our stage.”

Entries opened last Friday and will close on Sunday 15th of July.


A grateful Dad

A dad has decided to dedicate his life to helping the people who gave him the ultimate Father’s Day gift – a prolonged life for his seriously ill son, the Manchester Evening News reported.

Two years ago, Chris Fay and his partner Sarah found out that their son Noah, now age five, had Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD), an immune disorder which affects only around six in every million people. Without treatment, he would not have been expected to live beyond his 30th birthday.

Now his health has improved significantly, following a life-saving stem cell transplant.

Anthony Nolan, the charity which supports people with blood disorders and blood cancer, searched the international register and found a match for Noah – a complete stranger in Germany.

Now Chris, 27, says his son’s experience taught him to appreciate life more and not take anything for granted and it has even inspired leave his job as a teacher to work full time for the charity which helped to save his son’s life.

His role, at St Mary’s Hospital involves collecting umbilical cord blood from new mums, so it can be used to provide stem cell transplants.

“We are so happy to have Chris on board,” said Daniel Gibson, head of Anthony Nolan’s cord blood programme. “Having experienced first-hand the impact a stem cell transplant can have Chris is in a position where he can explain to new mums the impact of a stem cell transplant.

“Noah’s experience demonstrates how important it is for us to have as many cord blood units donated, and people as possible on the register, so that everyone who needs a lifesaving transplant receives the best possible match and can have a second chance of life.

“I would encourage anyone aged 16-30 who is healthy to consider joining the stem cell register.”


Do you know a story that would deserve a place in our good-news round up? Whether it is a grand gesture or simple acts of kindness happening in your local community, we’d love to hear from you!

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

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What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

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