Macclesfield town ups its game (with audio)

PUBLISHED: 12:59 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 20 February 2013

Photographer Brian Ollier, 45 years in business in Macclesfield, pictured with his 'successor' Matt Webb

Photographer Brian Ollier, 45 years in business in Macclesfield, pictured with his 'successor' Matt Webb

You can't accuse Macclesfield of resting on its laurels. We visit the Cheshire town with big plans WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS Narrated by The Sandbach and District Talking Newspaper

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It was love at first sight for Mike Rance. The second he stepped onto the hallowed pitch at Macclesfield Town Football Club he knew he was sold hook, line and sinker. Since moving to the town in 1983 to work at Astra Zeneca, the 63-year-old has dedicated himself to the Silk Men from his early days as a supporter taking his son to matches to moving onto the clubs board in 1998.

Mike, now club chairman, will oversee the next chapter in the clubs story. He has revealed multi-million pound plans to move the club to a new site just off Congleton Road. Despite being at the early stages the plans, which form part of a larger project to regenerate the South Macclesfield Development Area, are expected to include a new stadium with seating for around 7,000 supporters as well as car parking, bars, restaurants and shops.

Mike said: Survival is not good enough for us, we want to thrive. By having a new stadium we would be able to do things that we cant at the moment. The club is geographically very difficult for us to develop to have facilities that people come to expect now.

Having a new stadium will make a huge difference for us. At the minute we dont have the facilities to attract people to us but hopefully the new plan will change things.

Macclesfield Town Football Club was set up in 1874 and has seen much sporting success throughout its 136 years. If the move from their current Moss Lane location gets planning permission, the club will make an occasion of it.

Mike said: It will be sad for us to move from this site, we are one of the oldest stadiums in the country. But we will mark the occasion properly with a big celebration to make sure we leave on a high note. There have been memorable times here and its only right we recognise them in the right way.

This is a great club and we have had some great years. In the mid-nineties we were I think, relative to the level we were playing at, the most successful football club in the country. I never ever dreamed I would finish as chairman and it really is an honour.

The Cheshire East Council Cabinet was recently expected to commit to a ten year economic master plan for the town. Over the next few months the council, along with developer Wilson Bowden, will look at the potential of the town, including considering a plan for establishing a national silk heritage museum. It was also expected that this month the local community would also be consulted about the new scheme.

Councillor Jamie Macrae, cabinet member for prosperity, said: Well be looking at the whole town to help unlock Macclesfields true potential as well as looking at how parts of Macclesfield can complement each other to make it a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous place.

We wont just be looking at the economy but also the cultural heritage as well as the retail offer. The cultural heritage and visitor economy are key to Macclesfield and thats one of the things we want to promote because Macclesfield has so much to offer. The heritage is very important here and theres talk about having a national silk museum which would be fantastic.

If the people of Macclesfield are anything to go by, these plans will come to fruition. They are a bunch of go-getters who stop at nothing to get things done.

One of this dedicated group is Richard Newstead, a science teacher who combined his passion for amateur radio with hill walking. It may have taken more than seven years but the 50-year-old climbed all of the 178 Marilyns a hill with at least a 492ft drop - in the country. When he reached the top of each one he used Morse code to contact strangers using a two-watt radio he built himself.

He is the first person to have completed the challenge as part of the Summits on the Air award scheme he set up to encourage radio amateurs and shortwave listeners to use their portable equipment in mountainous areas. There are already around 25 other countries who have signed up to the scheme and anyone who completes the same feat as Richard will get a special certificate.

Richard said:
Ive always loved hill walking and I wanted to get more people out and about using their radios. I loved all the walks I did, including some in Cheshire, and I was so pleased when I completed them all.

It is not the first adventure Richard has been on. He has worked in several places including doing an expedition to the Antarctic where he helped with radio communications.

He said: It was very inhospitable out there but strangely beautiful. It was a wild but wonderful place to be and I was there at the time of the Falklands War which meant we got caught up in it and involved in it. I very much enjoyed my time out there.

Another Macclesfield resident making an impact is eco-artist Maria Maw. She creates art works from waste materials and recyclable goods. The 52-year-old, currently studying a Creative Arts for Employment Foundation Degree at Macclesfield College, ditched plans for a career in biochemistry in favour of pursuing her love of the arts.

I didnt want to be cooped up in a lab for the rest of my life, I wanted to be an artist, said Maria, also a qualified astrologist and complementary therapist. I had to take photographs doing my biochemistry and it was that I loved the most, the creative side of it.

Art has always been in my life and I really wanted to pursue it properly. I was told about the course here and I couldnt wait to start it.

Maria has produced everything from wall hangings to seven-foot tall installations. The latter, made of out 2,000 recyclable plastic bottles collected at the college, was displayed at Birminghams National Exhibition Centre. She also works as a teacher and does eco-art workshops.

Maria, whose mother is the founder of Macclesfield Christian relief charity Marias Care, said: A long time ago I became aware of the environment and the increasing need to protect it. I wanted to find a way of using these waste materials in my art. I feel as though Im finally doing what I have always wanted to do. Im having the time of my life.

Macclesfield faces

Times columnist and former MP Matthew Parris loves driving into Macclesfield from his home in the country.

I love coming through all of those gorgeous villages you drive through from my home down into Macclesfield. Its such a lovely area. If I decided to move it would be there I would love to live.

The 60-year-old who often uses Macclesfield Station to make his regular journeys down to London also finds a certain shop in the town impossible to resist.
Arighi Bianchi is one of those shops that I absolutely love, he said. I love going to do my shopping there, its fantastic.

Most locals will recognise the name Brian Ollier and its likely a big proportion of them have enlisted his service at some stage. The photographer has had a studio in the town for 45 years. But this year he will be leaving his Palace Yard premises to spend more time with his wife travelling around the world. He is handing over the baton to friend and employee Matt Webb.

He said: Ive had such fun over the years and met some lovely, lovely people. If I walk down the street I always run into people who I have photographed or family members and its lovely to hear how happy they were with their photographs. But its time for me to hand over now so I can enjoy my retirement. Macclesfield has been very good to me.

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