Generous boost for groups from Rotary’s ‘Dragons Den’ initiative

GRATEFUL GROUPS are turning their dreams into realities thanks to generous grants through the Rotary Club of Saddleworth’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ initiative.

More than 50 people gathered at the White Hart, Lydgate for the annual event, which was organised by the Rotary Club’s community chairman Jon Stocker.

He explained: “Many groups told us about their projects and applied for grants and we’ve picked out some of the worthiest causes. All the applications were excellent.”

Each of the eight recipients was presented with a cheque by Rotary Club president Stan Bowes and then gave a brief talk about their group and what the money will be spent on.

Dobcross Youth Band received £250 which will go towards buying new, easier music for their youngest recruits, aged 7 to 9 years old.

The brass band was founded in 1989 with six children taught by volunteers on borrowed instruments but since then has had over 500 children pass through in three age groups.

A quartet of youngsters, dressed in their smart red uniforms, performed two pieces before holding up their music book to show how easily the pages fall out.

Sue explained: “The instruments are wearing away, as well as the music that came with them.”

Vicky added: “The bands have grown a lot over the last 18 months and a lot of young children have joined so we need new, easier music for them to learn as well as new books.”

Eamon ODaly Sadd Carers
Dr Eamon O’Daly from Saddleworth Carers

Another £250 was presented to Eamon O’Daly, chairman of Saddleworth Carers, a friendly group for people living with memory problems and their carers.

The group was launched nine year ago by retired GP Eamon, whose first wife died after living with dementia for six years, and now has around 50 members.

They meet at the Sacred Heart Church Hall in Uppermill on the second and fourth Friday of each month from 10am-12noon for activities and a free lunch, with two trips out a year.

Eamon said: “Being a carer is a hard job without a lot of gratitude and it can leave you feeling isolated. For some this group is the only time they go out during the month.”

Bright futures Harry and Karen
Harry and Karen from Bright Futures School

Next, Friends of Bright Futures – a special school in Grasscroft for children with autism – received £150 to help get to work on an allotment owned by a local couple.

Pupils visited garden centres to research the costs of compost, tubs, watering cans, seed trays, tools and gloves and put together a slideshow using the information.

They will be getting hands on to grow potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and more to use in their cookery lessons, as well as using the greenhouse and tidying overgrown areas.

Harry – one of the nine pupils at the school – said: “I like being able to grow things and being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.”

Doreen and Anne Delph Youth Group
Doreen and Anne from Delph Youth Group

Then a cheque for £200 was gratefully received by Delph Youth Group, which was set up by Doreen and Anne in 2015 to keep local children from hanging around the village streets.

After speaking to children to find out what they wanted to do, the pair bought equipment including TVs, play stations, and arts and crafts materials, and had a snooker table donated.

Now, 15 children regularly attend the sessions at St Thomas’s Church Hall from 1.30pm-3.30pm on Wednesday afternoons, where they also receive free refreshments.

Anne explained the money from the Rotary Club will be used to buy a table tennis table and an air hockey table as well as to purchase more arts and crafts provisions.

Hack Oldham Andy and Mike
Andy and Mike from Hack Oldham

Another £200 was presented to Hack Oldham, who run workshops and events to bring together creative and technology-minded individuals and businesses.

Shared resources available to use at their Hardcastle Street base include 3D printers, laser cutters and an electronic lab to enable people to do all kinds of interesting things.

Andy and Mike explained they are also running youth groups and want to promote STEM careers to the next generation.

With the Dragon’s Den grant, they will be able to buy ‘raspberry pie’ computers so young people can create robots, developing and programming them from scratch.

Winston's Wish Abby
Abby from Winston’s Wish

Next, children’s bereavement charity Winston’s Wish received £200 which they will put towards their art therapy resources for children and adults of all abilities.

Senior practitioner Abby explained the nationwide charity works in homes, schools and hospitals with children and families to support them through their loss.

Abby said: “Many children come in a with a lot of different emotions, including guilt and anger, and can’t always talk about them.

“Art therapy offers a safe space for them to express feelings they cannot say, helping to relieve difficult and painful feelings.”

jolly wheezers cath and peter
Cath and Peter from the Jolly Wheezers

Then Peter and Cath from the Jolly Wheezers – a choir for people with breathing difficulties – thanked the Rotary Club for their £200 cheque.

Peter, who joined the choir after recovering from pneumonia in 2013, explaining singing has been proven to improve breathing capabilities, as well as providing a fun group for members.

Led by singing teacher Mel, they have performed at the Lowry, Palace Hotel Manchester and even the Royal College of Music in London as well as at numerous local nursing homes.

Peter said: “It costs us £3,000 a year just to stand still so this money will help greatly. We also need an alternative and cheaper way of finding music so will look into that.”

chernobyl childrens lifeline kay and john
Kay and John from Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline

Finally, Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline (Oldham Borough Link) was presented with £250 to help bring eight children and their teacher across from Belarus or Ukraine for four weeks.

The national scheme was set up 30 years ago after the nuclear accident near Chernobyl and helps children still suffering from the effects of low level radiation.

Kay explained: “Experts say if the children spend a month here in the UK, their life expectancy goes up by two years.

“Belarus and Ukraine are landlocked so when they come here we take them to Wales to the sea and the mountains – things we take for granted but they have never seen.”

“Thank you very much for helping us to put a smile on their faces. It will really make a difference.”

Closing the event, Tony Burke, who will take over as president from Stan Bowes, said: “What a wonderful, wide range of presentations.

“Our ability to give is only limited by what we can raise throughout the year to help the community.”


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