Singing Our Way to Success with the Stronger Together Community Choir

How a blogger and a singer-songwriter took Future Directions’ inclusive choir to winning Care Sector’s Got Talent

Thursday 30th September 2021, 4.50 pm, five miles somewhere south east of Preston: after taking part in a nationwide talent competition, there were scenes of elation at a local community hall with a party of 15 people. Among the fifteen or so people were Stuart Vallantine, Kevin Phoenix, and Lorraine Chapman-Linnett – values-driven employees for Future Directions. With the Stronger Together Community Choir, they entered Championing Social Care‘s Care Sector’s Got Talent, a national talent competition.

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Record Player Stand

S.V.’s Formative Years Festive 50 (1983 – 1984)

The Fifty Tracks of My Years from September 1983 to August 1984

Popular music can take us to a particular point in our lives. It is the soundtrack of our youth, birth, marriage, Bar Mitzvah, schooldays or not-so-happier times. Throughout my life, music has played a massive part. You can either see this on East of the M60 in written form, or in my professional capacity with Future Directions CIC on Fun Time Friday.

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Fun Time Friday

A Mission to Entertain: Future Directions’ Fun Time Friday

What do you get if you cross an extremely talented musician with a pretty good blogger and dancer (!) on a Friday afternoon?

Make no mistake: this sub-headline isn’t a dad joke, though a fast-paced mixture of dad jokes, dad dancing and mad music is behind one of Future Directions CIC’s most notable projects. Known as Fun Time Friday, it is a 45-minute programme of music, dad dancing and jokes which goes out on Friday afternoons.

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Twenty-Four Hours in Didsbury

My last day at Ewing School with the Middle Group

If you read the previous article entitled Seven Go Camping in Crowden, you might enjoy the latest Ewing School themed article. As the previous one took us back to the Dark Peak, this piece takes us back to a less forbidding part of the world. It is set in Didsbury and Cheadle, and covers my last twenty-four hours as a Ewing School pupil.

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Longdendale from Woodhead, Dave Dunford (2004)

Seven Go Camping in Crowden

S.V’s night under the stars along with six others from Ewing School

As I write this entry, it is exactly thirty years since my last breakaway with a few fellows from Ewing School. In addition to the Middle Group’s annual holiday, yours truly with four other pupils (who left Ewing School the following month) had a weekend away in Crowden.

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Stalybridge Station, Yorkshire platform and Buffet Bar

Bored This Week? Let's Play a Dice Based Race Game

Introducing The Transpennine Train Game, a dice based race game exclusive to East of the M60

With the Coronavirus leading to many people self-isolating and social distancing, there may come a time when you have tired of Facebook or had your fill of YouTube. You may be one of the lucky ones who can work from home, or you need to look after your children because the schools have closed.

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Generic Euphonium picture

Is the World Ready for Autie-Friendly Brass Band Concerts?

Could autie-friendly brass band concerts catch on?

If you pop in to your local supermarket or discount store, some chain stores have what is known as an ‘Autism Hour’. Each Saturday from 9am to 10am, your local Morrisons store turns off the background music. The lighting is toned down to avoid sensory overload triggers.

Some cinema chains have Autism Friendly Screenings. In your local multiplex cinema, the adverts are cut; the sound is turned down a bit; and the lighting is set at an amenable level. Many of the films are family-friendly, which is good for younger people with autism spectrum conditions.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from East of the M60

Seasons Greetings to all our readers, old and new

East of the M60 and the creator of this long-running blog, Stuart Vallantine, would like to wish all its readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Our thanks go to everyone who has followed this blog, shared our posts, commented on our posts, and stuck with us along the way.

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Stalybridge Artisan Market, 16 November 2019

Christmas Spirit Sees Stalybridge Civic Hall at its Best

Two go mad and sell cards and books at a packed artisan market in Victoria Market Hall, Stalybridge

“…But London is out of comparison quite with Stalybridge Market on a Saturday night…”

Stalybridge Market, The Fivepenny Piece (1973).

Much of the disappointment of some readers or visitors, there were no cockles and mussels for sale. Nor black pudding sausages, cowheels and tripe. There was vegan-friendly bath bombs and hand-crafted pens that you couldn’t get in 1973, let alone 1873. There was probably a good fish stall in 1973 – maybe the same one that yours truly remembers in his formative years in the 1980s.

Twenty years ago today, Stalybridge was in a period of transition. Work had yet to begin on the Armentieres Square section of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. CTP James, the landowners of the former Aerialite/Delta Crompton works at the time, had yet to begin demolishing the site for TESCO. Stalybridge Market, we would later find, was weeks away from closing after attempts to find a third party operator failed.

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Former Burton Shop, Old Square

Tameside’s Autism Hour, 05 – 12 October 2019: Ashton Review of Shops Extra

Which Tameside shops are taking part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour?

If you have an autism spectrum condition, a trip to the shops can be a daunting prospect. One issue could be the bright lights, another could be the background noise. In a supermarket, even the sheer variety of items can be overloading.

As for the queues and the crowds, say no more… This eejit in his formative years used to squeal his way through department stores. Shoppers thought I was being mistreated when it was the bustle of John Moores’ most famous retail concern that drove me nuts. The background noise in Ashton’s Pound Bakery is enough to put me off from being a regular customer (the one in Hyde isn’t as bad for that).

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