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Archive for November, 2013

The true meaning of Christmas

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

It might only be mid-November but the Christmas hustle and bustle is well and truly underway with festive adverts on TVs and stores already packed with an array of potential presents.

It’s not difficult to get swept along in all the glitzy excitement associated with the festivities, but at this time of year I think it’s important to pause for a minute and appreciate just how lucky we are in this country.

I say this because Christmas should be a time for giving, a time when we all reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves. That’s why I found my recent visit to Operation Christmas Child such a humbling experience where I was fortunate enough to meet the volunteers working hard to pack shoe boxes with presents for children in war-torn Rwanda.

Last year I opened the centre in Ashton with Councillor Susan Quinn and am proud that we have supported the charity in Tameside for over six years.
Since 1990, more than 100 million children in over 130 countries have benefited from simple shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child.

Every shoebox sent brings joy, hope and smiles to a child whose life has been haunted by poverty, disaster, disease or war. What’s more they are gifts that are given freely – surely that’s a symbol of the true meaning of Christmas?

Remember with pride

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

AT 11 o’clock on the morning of Monday, 11 November, it will be 95 years since the First World War came to an end.  At the time it was hoped it would be the war to end all wars but within only 21 years fighting had recommenced.

Even since 1945 the conflicts have kept on coming: Korea, the Falklands the Gulf and Afghanistan, not to mention the various theatres of unrest which rose up as Britain relinquished its empire.

I find it a very sobering fact that since 1945, 1968 is the only year that no UK service personnel were killed on active service.

Of course all the men and women who lost their lives had families. All these conflicts left many orphans and widows, and those who came back would have spent long periods away from home and hearth – possibly years in the case of the world wars.  Even today, you only have to watch the touching reunions when troops return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to realise how much close relatives are missed.

That’s why I believe it’s important we honour Remembrance Sunday.  All these men and women – whether conscripts or volunteers – deserve our recognition and respect.  That’s why I would encourage you to wear your poppy with pride and attend a ceremony or service.

Hopefully, by looking back to the wars of the past, we can find a way to avoid wars in the future.

Find details of Tameside’s events at www.tameside.gov.uk/pressreleases/remembranceservices

Students in the market for skills

Monday, November 4th, 2013

WITH less than two months to go until Christmas, I imagine things must be fairly busy in Santa’s Workshop. However, that place can have nothing on Tameside as we prepare for the Christmas market.

Ashton Christmas Market – which runs from 8 to 22 December, promises to be truly spectacular. Open seven days a week it will offer attractions, music and a mouthwatering array of food and drink as well as seasonal gifts.

I’m sure the market will prove to be a magnet, attracting visitors from across Greater Manchester and beyond. Equally importantly, it will provide a welcome boost for the local economy. The town-centre shops and businesses are ideally placed to benefit.

A major feature will be the wooden cabins which will be used as food, drink and gift outlets. The cabins have been designed in Tameside. All materials have been supplied by Tameside businesses and Tameside College joinery, welding and electrical students are currently building them. These cabins are quite literally “Made in Tameside”. The production line is a real hive of activity with volunteer mentors working alongside students to play their part in creating a wonderful event for the whole community.

What is even more pleasing is the enthusiasm being shown by the students. Working under staff supervision, they are receiving first-class support from volunteer mentors, including some students who are coming in on their days off. These gestures shows real community spirit and make me feel very proud. I often talk about the Tameside way and this is a perfect example of it.

Christmas 2013 is all set to be the best one Ashton has enjoyed in years. Make sure you don’t miss out.

For more information about Ashton Christmas Market visit www.ashtonchristmasmarket.co.uk

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