A local community in Rochdale has come together to donate hundreds of gift boxes to residents in the borough’s care homes ahead of the festive period.
The project is the brainchild of Heywood resident Richenda Mather and her 14-year-old son Ady.
Richenda – who works with her daughter as a hairdresser and was forced to temporarily close her business due to the second national lockdown – launched the heartfelt idea with a social media post earlier this month, and it has since resulted in thousands of pounds being raised, as well as almost 200 festive gift bags being distributed to care home residents, many of whom haven’t seen their families in months.
The pair said the festive gifts would simply cheer the care home residents up, and it doesn’t have to cost much to “make someone very happy”.
In true Greater Manchester spirit, the local community quickly rallied around the idea, and people were soon dropping gifts off at Richenda’s house, sending her money toward putting gift bags together, and one of her friends – who works as a train driver for Northern Rail – even managed to raise an impressive £1,000 in just 24 hours for the initiative.
Each bag contained a variety of pick-me-ups including chocolates, sweets, scarves, blankets and perfumes.
Richenda also asked a group of childminders if they would consider asking children to make homemade Christmas cards too and in total, the mother and son duo managed to pack around 180 gift bags, which they successfully delivered to four local care homes last week.
How brilliant is this?
Speaking to the MEN on the initiative, Richenda said: “We saw something on telly where there was a nursing home and nobody had seen their family since March [and] my son said, ‘why don’t we do some Christmas gift boxes for these people?’
“So we went and made one and I asked on Facebook whether anyone else wanted to get involved and it just went absolutely mad.”
Care homes to benefit from Richenda and Ady’s festive gifting project include Springfield Park Nursing Home, Springbank Nursing Home, Beech House, and Tudor Court, with staff sending their thanks for brightening the residents’ days and saying the community coming together in such a way to provide the donations “brought a tear to the eye”.
If that wasn’t incredible enough as it is, the pair even borrowed elf and penguin outfits to dress up in when dropping the gifts off, waving at residents through the window.
“I got a message from the nursing home and they said they are going to go out and buy an elf outfit for the residents as they loved it so much,” Richenda added.
Expressing his gratitude to the community for supporting residents, Michael Jones – Manager at Springfield Park Nursing Home – said: “I wanted to say thank you so much to her and her friends and colleagues who have donated to our residents at such a difficult time.
“They are missing out on family and friends visiting and this will be such a great boost for them. It was a massive surprise [and] we weren’t expecting it at all.
“It has put a smile on their faces.
“There are handmade cards from children in the local area too – they are so heartwarming [and] it brings a tear to the eye. It’s amazing to know that they are not forgotten and that people are thinking about them at this time.”
It wasn’t just festive gift bags and boxes donated though.
Enough money was even raised to be able to buy a tablet device for one home, so that residents could stay connected with their families, and staff at the homes also had a surprise too as Richenda said: “At the end of it all, I think we had about £50 left, so we got the staff a bottle of vodka each and some chocolate and thank you cards, as we thought we can’t leave them out,”
After all their hard work, Richenda and Ady have said they would like to send their thanks to anyone who has donated to the successful initiative. She said: “It wasn’t just me who’s been doing this – everyone in Heywood has been contributing,
“One woman dropped six gift bags off – it really has been madness.”
“It was so worth doing – it was a stressful week but we managed to do it all… I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone [as] I couldn’t have done it without everyone else.”
She continued: “Usually this is my biggest time of the year, so I don’t know if I’d have been able to do it otherwise, but I am thinking about trying it again next year as I have really enjoyed it,
“But with a bit more help dropping them off.”
From everyone here at The Manc, to Richenda, Ady and the local Heywood community who played a crucial part in contributing at a time when it is truly needed most, we take our hats off to you.
Thank you for helping to keep Greater Manchester great.
Rashford explains heartbreaking reason behind his celebration after wonder free-kick against Wales
On Tuesday night, Marcus Rashford lit up what had previously been an underwhelming final group game against Wales with what we can only describe as an absolute stunner of a free-kick.
Swapping out his usual knuckleball technique for a whipped but equally fast-paced finish into the top right corner, the 25-year-old wheeled away to celebrate with the travelling fans but not long after, he dropped to his news and pointed to the sky.
While not an entirely uncommon celebration in the world of football, it did seem like a somewhat muted reaction from the Man United forward, especially after such an incredible opening goal.
Speaking to media after the game, it turns out Rashford‘s celebration was dedicated to a close friend who passed away a couple of days prior.
As the Wythenshawe-born star went on to explain, choosing to point to the sky for the celebration was his way of paying tribute to a friend who sadly died following a long battle with cancer.
The joint-leading goalscorer this World Cup went on to say, “I’m pleased I managed to score for him, he’s always been a big supporter of mine. He’s just a great person to have come into my life”. Heartbreaking.
As confirmed by several outlets after the press conference, Rashford’s late friend was Garfield Hayward, a 35-year-old also from Manchester, who is said to have passed away last week.
Nicknamed ‘Garf’, his nephew wrote on social media: “My heart is hurting so much knowing I won’t see you again in this life… it won’t be the same without you being here… You didn’t have a bad bone in your body you would give anything and everything you could with even a single bit of hesitation.” So touching.
It was no wonder Rashford himself was so quick to go and celebrate with his loved ones after the fact.
Rashford made it three goals in as many games at Qatar 2022 following his wonderful free-kick and equally well-worked second goal, with fellow Manc Phil Foden scoring the second goal only seconds after the opener.
England now face Senegal in the Round of 16 and the way these two lads looked on the night, we expect Manchester to be putting on a show come the weekend.
TV doctor Ranj Singh calls out racist joke made at British Curry Awards ceremony
This week, the British Curry Awards held a glitzy black-tie ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the UK’s curry industry.
The prestigious ceremony, also informally known as the ‘Curry Oscars’, takes place every year – seeing a number of awards handed out to the best Asian restaurants across the country.
However, this year’s event was sullied when a white guest presenter made a racist joke on stage, asking: “Why has India never won the World Cup? Because every time they get a corner, they build a shop on it.”
Taking to Twitter after the event last night, TV Doctor and personality Ranj Singh blasted the presenter who made the joke, asking his 174,000 followers “I’m sorry but how is this OK?”
The TV Doctor then went on to release a statement, in which he first said he was “honoured and privileged to be invited as a guest” to the ceremony before continuing to outline why he was ” not the only person that felt uncomfortable tonight.”
Singh asked how the awards ceremony could truly be representing the Asian community fairly when “the host is white, the judging panel is entirely white, the performers on stage are over 90% white”, a racist joke is made on stage, and organisers were “auctioning off a piece by Winston Churchill”, whose relationship with Indian (and Bengali people specifically) is known to have been problematic.
The tweet, shared by Singh on the social media platform last night, has been liked over 1,000 times and retweeted more than 300 at the time of writing.
He then signed off for the evening, writing: “The number of people trying to justify an inappropriate and racist joke on here is saddening. But then again this is Twitter.”
Others have since taken to the platform to agree with Singh, with used David B tweeting: “I couldn’t summarise this better myself.
“The organisers did not consider that #RepresentationMatters – it felt uncomfortable to see so many white people to present, host and judge the awards when there are so many others that could have EASILY represented the community.”
Every year the awards ceremony welcomes a number of high-profile figures, including prominent personalities from the worlds of politics, sport, showbiz and entertainment alongside celebrity chefs and curry restaurant owners and their staff from across the country.
In previous years, attendees have included cricketer Azeem Rafiq, Love Island contestant Priya Gopaldas, and The Apprentice winner Sian Gabbidon.
Following the awards ceremony, organisers have said that an investigation is now under way.