A local family have been “making Wythenshawe proud” this year by cleaning up their community and raising money for charity along the way.
The Brookes family may not have imagined the new year to begin this way, but they haven’t looked back since.
When Anthony and his wife Danielle by chance saw an advertisement on social media calling on volunteers to help with a Christmas clean-up event in their local area just before 2020 drew to a close, they decided to get themselves and their two young daughters, Charlotte and Toni, involved in the action as a way of creating a positive impact – having just recently “become more spiritually aware” – and starting the new year with the best intentions going forward.
And after Anthony had also recently survived a number of job cut-backs at the company he works for, and found himself furloughed with the new gig of homeschool teacher for the duration of England’s current national lockdown, he also saw it as a unique learning opportunity.
The opportunity to teach something the textbooks can’t.
After “[learning] a lot over the past couple of years”, he was keen to not only lead by example for his daughters, but also to teach them the power of contribution and carrying out good deeds from an early age.
Quite simply, they just wanted to make a difference – and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Gearing up for the task ahead in high-vis jackets with their gloves on and litter pickers in hand, the family set out on their first clean-up trip at the start of this month, and went all the way from the Woodhouse Park to Newall Green areas of Wythenshawe, picking up as much rubbish as they could see along the way – and now they have “the [litter picking] bug”.
“Now we’ve got a bug and carry on cleaning litter on our side in Woodhouse Park,” Anthony admits.
“We have collected over 20 big bags [of rubbish] in a short period of time and you can really see the difference. We still go back to Mill Pond Fields and the nature area in Newall Green to help out in between [too]”.
But Anthony is keen “not to take all the credit” from the wider group of superstars.
The Brookes’ are members of an ever-growing community clean up initiative known as the Wythenshawe Waste Warriors, and they couldn’t be prouder.
“They are doing a top job,” Anthony insists.
Founded in 2018 in a bid to transform the area’s local parks, green spaces and brooks, Wythenshawe Waste Warriors is a network of volunteers working together to make the community a cleaner place in different hubs across the south Manchester suburb.
The group believes that “together we are stronger and that all our activities are building towards a community that is sustainable – environmentally, economically, physically, mentally and spiritually for the future”.
Wythenshawe Waste Warriors was set up by Newall Green resident and Chairman John-Paul Coe after visiting his local park – Milky Button Park – with his six-year-old son Bobby and being so upset by the amount of mess and litter scattered around that they were forced to abandon their trip and return home.
Heartbroken by what he saw, John-Paul promised his son he would take control of the parks and woodlands that had been neglected in his community.
John-Paul and a small group of volunteers simply began litter picking near their homes, before deciding to launch the Wythenshawe-wide collective – which has now seen glowing support from residents, businesses, local sports teams, schools, the local council and services, outreach initiatives, local charities, and more – and going on to collect thousands of bags of litter year after year.
In the year 2020, the network set the apt target of filling 2,020 bags of litter – and they smashed that, amassing 2,406 bags and counting.
With the vital work the collective is carrying out – especially as fly-tipping rates have continued to soar across the region over lockdown – they’re really helping to make Wythenshawe a wonderful place to live, and John-Paul has nothing but positive things to say about the “amazing” Brookes family.
“We have been delighted to partner our local residents, community groups, businesses and service partners to clean up our town and green spaces, [and] during the recent lockdown, [the Brookes family] from Woodhouse Park have made a huge difference by litter picking” John-Paul said.
He continued: “It’s amazing to see the family combining outdoor exercise with making the pathways and fields safer for all to use.
“They have collected a great deal of waste, which has been removed by MCC and Biffa.”
“[Not only are they] improving wellbeing physically, both for themselves and for all who wish to access our green spaces, [but] the mental health benefits are also huge as residents are telling us they feel safer on their walks and are able to see community-spirited neighbours making a difference, [which] gives them a boost”.
And if all of this wasn’t brilliant enough as it is, the Brookes’ have inspired a number of other local families to join them in their pledge, and have been raising money for a worthy cause – St Ann’s Hospice in Heald Green – along the way as part of John-Paul and the Wythenshawe Waste Warriors’ Pound a Bag sponsorship scheme, which is really starting to take off in 2021.
With a £3,000 target to hit, the group’s JustGiving fundraiser has now accumulated an impressive £830 and counting, with the Brookes family themselves managing to raise over £100 of that figure.
“It’s just brilliant,” said Anthony, “I never thought [we’d] get that”.
Anthony continued: “We are happy we are inspiring other people to get out and join the big clean up and [we’d] like to thank all my family and friends for the likes, shares and support [on social media] and the sponsors.
“You are all amazing”.
Donations to the group’s JustGiving fundraiser for St Ann’s Hospice can be made here.
You can find more information about the Wythenshawe Waste Warriors – including how to get yourself involved – via the group’s website here, and you can keep up to date with the brilliant work the group is doing on a daily basis to clean up the community via their social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter.
Five Manchester artists we’ve been listening to this month | February 2024
Ay up, you lot. It’s us again, back to give you another list of some of the best new music we’ve been listening to, be it little-known tunes from new and upcoming artists in Greater Manchester or the biggest releases from ever-rising names around the region.
We launched this new monthly series at the start of 2024 and will be serving up suggestions for all you Manc musos regularly throughout the year and beyond, so you best get in on the ground floor so as to as not to miss a single shout.
But let’s not faff about any longer, shall we?
Time to get stuck into five Manchester artists we’ve had on repeat throughout February — and it’s a leap year, so we’ve had an extra day of listening to make our picks.
Manc bands we’ve been listening to over the past month
1. Hello Cosmos
First off, we’ve got Hello Cosmos: a Manchester-based creative consisting of a four-piece at their core and other session musicians like Elara, a wonderful saxophone player and vocalist who is well worth looking into in her own right.
Founded by From The Fields director, Ben Robinson — the events organisers behind Kendal Calling and bluedot — their style is a seriously wild mix of alternative electronic and pop-punk. Think Yard Act if they had more synths, sax, keys, violins and had a Christopher Eccelstone sound-alike on vocals.
Our standout tunes to start with have to be their ‘FUSE’ from their debut Dream Harder, ‘Loud Is Beautiful’ (which pretty much encapsulates the full range of their sound in one track) and ‘Metaverse’ — there’s also a great twist on it by Catu Diosis and that goes for the whole Hard Dirt (Remixed) album too.
Next up is an instrumental outfit and touring band called OMA, who have played on stage with the likes of American rapper Isaiah Rashad as well as Japanese hip-hop artists and producer Shing02, and they just might be some of the coolest cats on socials right now.
Going more and more viral on TikTok every week with their live takes on hip-hop classics by Dr Dre, Nas, MF DOOM, Lauryn Hill, 2Pac and countless others, we can’t accurately describe just how much we want to be in a room and headbob to their addictive recreations of iconic beats from down the years.
Every clip is an absolute earworm and you simply can’t listen to any of them just once. They don’t have any signature tracks of their own but it only takes one video to get hooked. I mean, honestly, just listen to them — and bonus points if you can figure out where they’re playing:
In at number three, although we couldn’t possibly put this is any particular ranked order, is local indie-pop group Hi Sienna — a bunch of best mates based out of Chorlton who make great stuff and they’re absolutely wonderful.
With every member taking time out of work to make their music dream happen, they sum up their sound perfectly in their tagline: unsigned, unmanaged and unbelievably good. Too right. We also recently had the pleasure of chatting with them as part of the new series of Stream GM’s Spill The Sound.
It’s nothing but positive vibes and non-stop fun listening to these lot and if we had to pick our favourites, they would be ‘Enter Disco’, ‘Be A Man’ and the soon to be released ‘Pickleback’ which we got a cheeky glimpse of over at The Yard recently. It’s a belter.
The penultimate stop on this month’s list is the mighty Maruja, who are bringing both funk and punk roots to their alternative rock scene here in Greater Manchester and we can’t get enough.
Playing White Hotel and New Century this April as their profile keeps growing around the city centre and beyond, we reckon it won’t be long before you see their name everywhere — not that our incredible fandom and heavy bias are getting away with us or anything…
Seriously though, they sound both familiar and unique enough if you’re this kind of stuff and genres that naturally overlap. We’d recommend kicking off with ‘Tao’, arguably their most popular tune ‘The Tinker’ second and then their latest single, ‘The Invisible Man’.
Last but by no means least is Cassia. They’re technically from down the Macclesfield but they’ve been plying their trade here in 0161 since they first began and we just hope they remember us and all our great proving grounds when they well and truly blow up. And trust us, they will.
Mixing tropical and Caribbean sounds with irresistible indie sonics and vocals, we just feel all nice and happy whenever we listen to them – almost as if we were on holiday. We also got to chat with these guys recently too and they were equally delightful.
If it’s your first time listening to them, you can’t go wrong with ‘Right There’, their new tune with KAWALA, ‘Circular Motion’, and a key part of our Summer 2022 soundtrack, ‘Drifting’. So, sooo good.
And that’s it for this month’s list and, believe us, it was a toughy as there were plenty of other local bands and artists that we could have picked, but we’re sure they’ll pop up on here soon enough.
As always, be sure to keep your eyes over on The Manc Audio so you don’t miss a single bit of music news this year.
Oh yeah, and if you didn’t read last month’s selections of Manchester artists that you need to get on, you know what to do:
Featured Image — Cassia/Hello Cosmos (press image)/Hi Sienna (via IG)
The thousands of hours it takes to perfect making some of the best sushi in Manchester
We’d wager if you took a survey of people on the street in Manchester and asked them what food they find most intimidating, a very big chunk of the answers would be sushi and raw fish.
But then again, most of them haven’t been to MUSU yet.
Listen, we get it, even tasting menus sometimes sound a touch upmarket and a bit out of their wheelhouse to some people, but this two AA Rosette-winning Japanese restaurant is helping make fine-dining and seafood experiences more accessible whilst delivering a truly unforgettable meal.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Head Sushi Chef André Aguiar after he served us MUSU’s ‘omakase’ tasting menu straight from the counter, which features some of the most amazing sushi, nigiri and all-round high-end produce we’ve ever come across. This guy knows his stuff.
Can you give us a brief overview of your background/journey as a chef?
I started my career in Brazil which was my home country. I was in the army and met a captain who was passionate about Japanese cuisine. After he introduced me to the world of Japanese culture and cuisine, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
I then opened a Japanese restaurant in 2010 in Brazil and stayed there for two years before selling the restaurant in order to move to Ireland in order to learn English.
I met a Japanese master at Taste by Dylan McGrath in Dublin who wanted to retire and move back to Japan but the deal that he had with the owner of the restaurant was that he had to find a new head chef before he left so I started to train with him, he was very strict and it was really tough but I persevered for three years until I was ready to take over the head sushi chef position and was there for 4 years.
After Taste, I moved to Italy for 6 months to open a restaurant and train the staff then came back to Dublin in 2019 and continued to work there but then Covid hit and unfortunately they closed down due to the pandemic.
After the pandemic, I went to Portugal to open another restaurant and to train staff and when working there I was approached by the directors of MUSU who were on holiday there and were looking for a head sushi chef to join the team.
After they tried my tasting menu at the restaurant in Portugal, they offered me the position immediately, so I moved to the UK the next month and I’ve been here ever since.
Amazing. What was it that drew you to MUSU and the ‘omakase’ concept specifically?
The fact I was able to build a team from the ground up, develop a menu from scratch and work with the finest ingredients in the world.
At the end of the day, that’s what every chef wants.
Simple as that. What about your favourite sushi creation?
During the development of the menu at MUSU I was able to experiment with lots of different ingredients. While I can’t name one favourite creation the three stand-outs are the Chu-toro seared with Japanese charcoal; the carabinero prawn with miso butter and then the salmon with foie gras.
During development, I was able to create a selection of ‘Edomae’ nigiri that really pushes the boundaries of traditional Edo-style sushi — if you visit I’d recommend trying a few of them.
Yep, we can vouch for all three of those dishes. What advice would you give people new to sushi/seafood/tasting menus?
Most of the people who come here and say they are afraid to try raw fish or have usually had a bad experience with sushi due to low-quality ingredients. When they try it here, we always get asked why it is so different and why it is so good.
I always tell them the details behind the sushi we create including the ageing and curing process to improve flavour and texture as well as the rice quality, temperature and seasoning.
We use the best ingredients in all of our sushi, including the best sushi rice, nori seaweed; A5 wagyū beef; aged soy, aged vinegar and the freshest wasabi on the market shipped directly from Japan.
I always recommend that people just be open-minded when it comes to trying new things. Sometimes people have one bad experience and never venture into it again, whereas when people are open to new textures and flavours they have the best experience.
Absolutely. And if you had to describe the omakase experience in three words what would they be?
Literally translating to, “I’ll leave the details up to you”, that’s how we’d sum up the whole omakase experience: you get to watch a craftsman carefully examining every minute detail as he builds some of the most incredible seafood courses we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating right in front of your eyes.
Chef Andre is a master in every sense of the word and not only do you get to see his skills on show but his knowledge of the cuisine and pure passion come across as he explains each and every dish.
Every incredible ingredient is lovingly presented and you get to witness the clean, military-level precision and almost surgery-like operation unfold up close as the freshest of produce is turned into little plates of art. It’s quite fascinating to watch.
So if you’re guilty of being nervous try sushi and seafood in this kind of setting, there aren’t many better places to push the boat out and dip your toes in. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed — and better still, if you sign up for the MUSU Rewards scheme, you can get 30% off your food bill this March and even more throughout the year.