Curzon’s Christmas Joy
Tuesday 2nd January 2018 @ 16:38 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Curzon Ashton opened the doors of the Tameside Stadium on Christmas morning – the only venue in Tameside that did so – to invite local people to come to the ground and enjoy a cooked breakfast and some company.

Such was the uptake in interest, the club managed to feed 46 people on the day.

Commenting on the initiative, Andy Cheshire, community development manager, told Reporter Sport: “In my previous role, as Community and Education Manager for FC United of Manchester, I organised an event for Christmas 2016 to invite the city’s homeless to the ground for a cooked breakfast that included check-ups by GP’s, dentists as well as having hairdressers and counsellors on site. I was delighted to see that they continued this again for Christmas 2017.

“This year, in my new role as Community Development Manager for Curzon Ashton, I wanted to do something similar, but I didn’t want to exclude anyone – and I would have if I made it an event for the homeless only.

“I liaised with Ambition for Ageing and decided that it would be a lovely initiative to invite anyone to the ground on the day – those suffering from loneliness, depression, social isolation, social exclusion, those who find the time of year difficult as they may be alone or suffering from bereavement. This time of year can be very difficult for those who have no-one or who have recently lost a loved one. It is easy for us to get wrapped up in our own lives and excitement for the big day and forget all about those who may not be experiencing similar feelings of joy and excitement.”

To ensure the day was a success, but also to ensure those who wanted to attend could, Andy needed to recruit volunteer drivers (with their own car), to collect those who wanted to attend, but who may be less physically mobile. He continued: “My very good friend Federico Frappi had already agreed to be the chef on the day, however I still required people to be kitchen assistants, people to meet and greet, people to help in the NASH Bar where we had a range of games on, etc.

Andy Cheshire

“The response locally was fantastic – as was that from the club. This club is a very special, family and community football club in Ashton under Lyne and this was demonstrated emphatically with the response we had.”

Three of the club’s board of directors – Harry Galloway, Wayne Salkeld and Jimmy Newall – collected people from their homes on Christmas morning and took them back again once they were ready to go home (or took them to the Church of Nazarene for Christmas dinner). Chief Executive Officer, Natalie Atkinson came down for a couple of hours in the morning, while first team manager, John Flannagan, was in attendance for most of the morning as was first team player Paul Marshall and our first team coach Jack Salkeld. Andy continued: “I have made a point of naming those people above, because they epitomise this club and the incredible number of hours that each board member commits throughout the year to ensure we can have a local football club at the Tameside Stadium.

First team coach, Jack Salkeld

“I would also like to say a huge thank you to the volunteers from across our local community that we had on the day; Julia Powell and Kath Ivell, Mark who assisted in the kitchen, the Drapes family, Deborah Smith, Leeanda Powell, the two Matthew’s, Keith Whitehead, Steve and Evelyn from Mossley, Ruth, Louise, Ben Steer – without you this day could not have been possible.”