Growing up in Bolton – Manchester was always my “Big City”. I rode on my first ever train to Manchester holding my mum’s hand and so excited to hear that trains really do make that “clickety-clack, clickety-clack” noise. We were going to see Father Christmas and buy new winter coats at Lewis’s department store (the northern chain – nothing to do with John….). The 17 miles was a long way back then so we looked forward to our annual trip. My parent’s lived in Manchester before I was born and my brothers were born there. Manchester University was where my dad did his dental training after the war – an opportunity that a boy from Barrow could never have dreamed of.
Manchester was always just down the road. Our football teams were great rivals (hard to believe now in these days of the Premier League) – back then many of the players were local lads………….
As I grew up Manchester was the portal that brought me home from University – a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Manchester Piccadilly and then transfer to Manchester Deansgate to travel onto Bolton (unless I could talk mum – who could now drive into picking me up in Manchester).
I returned to the North West to complete my Clinical Psychology Training in the early 1980s at the Lancashire In-Service Training Scheme. Manchester was once again my city and we shared placements with trainees from the Manchester University course. I learned my trade with child and family therapy placements at the Pendlebury Children’s Hospital (now the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital). By now visits to Manchester were easy – the distance shrunk by cars and motorways. So it was easy to see bands – and what bands! The Smiths were my favourite at the time – and later Oasis and The Verve (never got into the Stone Roses). But the Manchester music scene was second to non. And no trip to Manchester was complete without a visit to “Grassroots” – a bookstore for the time, full of radical literature and periodicals – no problem getting your Spare Rib here……………………..
It is now many years since I have lived in the North West of England but it still forms part of my soul. My heart is with everyone there now. Tony Walsh’s poem says it brilliantly – finding words where no words seem enough ………..
This is the place
In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best
And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands
Set the whole planet shaking.
Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music
We make brilliant bands
We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands
And we make things from steel
And we make things from cotton
And we make people laugh, take the mick summat rotten
And we make you at home
And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen
And we can’t seem to help it
And if you’re looking from history, then yeah we’ve a wealth
But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.
And make us a record, a new number one
And make us a brew while you’re up, love, go on
And make us feel proud that you’re winning the league
And make us sing louder and make us believe that this is the place that has helped shape the world
And this is the place where a Manchester girl named Emmeline Pankhurst from the streets of Moss Side led a suffragette city with sisterhood pride
And this is the place with appliance of science, we’re on it, atomic, we struck with defiance, and in the face of a challenge, we always stand tall, Mancunians, in union, delivered it all
Such as housing and libraries and health, education and unions and co-ops and first railway stations
So we’re sorry, bear with us, we invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us, we invented computers.
And this is the place Henry Rice strolled with rolls, and we’ve rocked and we’ve rolled with our own northern soul
And so this is the place to do business then dance, where go-getters and goal-setters know they’ve a chance
And this is the place where we first played as kids. And me mum, lived and died here, she loved it, she did.
And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city, they built us these towns and they coughed on the cobbles to the deafening sound to the steaming machines and the screaming of slaves, they were scheming for greatness, they dreamed to their graves.
And they left us a spirit. They left us a vibe. That Mancunian way to survive and to thrive and to work and to build, to connect, and create and Greater Manchester’s greatness is keeping it great.
And so this is the place now with kids of our own. Some are born here, some drawn here, but they all call it home.
And they’ve covered the cobbles, but they’ll never defeat, all the dreamers and schemers who still teem through these streets.
Because this is a place that has been through some hard times: oppressions, recessions, depressions, and dark times.
But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit. Northern grit, Northern wit, and Greater Manchester’s lyrics.
And these hard times again, in these streets of our city, but we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity.
Because this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever.
And we’ve got this place where a team with a dream can get funding and something to help with a scheme.
Because this is a place that understands your grand plans. We don’t do “no can do” we just stress “yes we can”
Forever Manchester’s a charity for people round here, you can fundraise, donate, you can be a volunteer. You can live local, give local, we can honestly say, we do charity different, that Mancunian way.
And we fund local kids, and we fund local teams. We support local dreamers to work for their dreams. We support local groups and the great work they do. So can you help us. help local people like you?
Because this is the place in our hearts, in our homes, because this is the place that’s a part of our bones.
Because Greater Manchester gives us such strength from the fact that this is the place, we should give something back.
Always remember, never forget, forever Manchester.