Knutsford's Got Talent - meet the people who make this community lively
PUBLISHED: 21:23 15 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:52 20 February 2013
With its unusual architecture, quality restaurants and shops, Knutsford needs little introduction. But the town's best asset is its people. Words BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Many young people dream of becoming an actress, dancer or choreographer.
In Knutsford, theres a chance of talented children making the dream a reality, with the help of Victoria Thomas. The talented 31-year-old, who lives in the town, has appeared in Life on Mars, Emmerdale and Doctors as well as danced with famous music artists including Kanye West and at The Brit Awards. She is also the current face of sofa company, SCS, and runs her own events management company, Red Ice Promotions, which is planning a Christmas spectacular this year at Tatton Park.
In January this enthusiastic performer, who worked in London for several years and trained at the famous Pineapple Dance Studios, launched Rokit Performing Arts. It gives four to 18-year-olds professional training in acting, dancing, singing and presenting. There are also Rokit Pop and Rokit Theatre training sessions that focus on pop songs, acting for television and dancing as well as musical theatre and technical training. All classes are held at Knutsford Civic Hall.
Victoria said: I always knew I wanted to open something where children can have fun and enjoy performing. But for those who want to take it further I can help them. I still work in the business so I have strong knowledge of what is out there and what is required.
There is a lot of talent in Knutsford and if I can help young people to achieve their dreams then I will be very happy. But its also about just having fun and building their confidence as well as team work. I love what I do and I hope the children enjoy it as much as I do.
Also encouraging musical and performance skills are members of Mereside Brass Band, who meet just down the road at Plumley Village Hall. The group, who have recently returned from a musical tour of Germany, mark their 10th anniversary this year. As well as the senior band, they have a training group that nurtures new musical talent.
Mereside Brass was founded by Albert Oldfield in Knutsford for people who werent getting what they needed from their current bands.
The musical group has gone from strength-to-strength with members from 15 to 74-years-old, many of whom have years of experience. Some members have gone on to success including 22-year-old cornet player, Richard Probert. He joined Mereside when he was 13 and now plays with the renowned Fairey Band, originally formed in 1937 by employees at Stockports Fairey Aviation Works. It has won many accolades including National Champions of Great Britain.
Chris Hardy, band secretary, said: We have members who come from all over to play in the band and its something we get a lot of enjoyment out of.
Its important to nurture young talents because they are the future of the band. We hope we can help them on to greater success like Richard. Were very proud to be celebrating our tenth anniversary. May there be many more years of Mereside.
Jan Peters has spent several years nurturing her own talent as an artist. The 60-year-old, who has lived in the town for 30 years, used to work as a researcher for British Nuclear Fuels and at 2012Sellafield in Cumbria. Art had been a hobby but it was when she was decorating her kitchen that being an artist became a full-time occupation.
Jan, who works in her own studio at home and has exhibited in galleries across Cheshire and in London, paints directly onto glass. She likes to capture movement and emotion and her colourful pieces are inspired by the years she spent living in the Caribbean as a child.
She said:I used to paint conventionally on canvas but it was six years I changed to the glass painting. The piece I did on canvas didnt work in the new kitchen so I tried it on glass. Ever since then Ive been fascinated by working this way.
I love working with the vibrant colours. There is no room for error because once its on the glass thats it. But the risk is worth it. Lots of people comment about how fantastic my work is and they all like guessing what shapes then can see in them at dinner parties.
Making a return to the Knutsford restaurant scene are chef David Mooney and restaurateur Paul Newman. Dave, 49, was former head chef at Belle Epoque and 47-year-old Paul was responsible for launching Gusto in the town. But the pair, who already run The Lord Binning in Kelsall as part of their The New Moon Pub Company, are launching a new venture in Princess Street this month.
The Old Sessions House, formerly the Red Cow, has had a 250,000 makeover to transform it into a top quality dining pub in the heart of the town. They also have plans for function facilities. Not only will the venue showcase local produce, including a special ale from nearby Tatton Brewery, David and Paul want to help boost this end of the town.
David said: I used to come to this pub when I was younger and they would be queuing out of the door to get in. It was a fantastic place. But over the years it has suffered a bit and has not helped in the regeneration of this part of the town.
It is the first building you see when you turn in off the main Knutsford roundabout and now it will be something that will really stand out and make a good impression. Many businesses have really invested in this part of town and were proud to be adding to that.
To celebrate the launch the pair have plans to bury a time capsule filled with items of local significance. Objects, which can include creative writing, relevant artwork or a short story, are being collected. A copy of Cheshire Life has already been donated to the capsule.
Paul said: We want local people to know what were doing and to be involved with The Old Sessions House. This seemed like an ideal opportunity.
Its nice for us both to be back in Knutsford and we cant wait to get those doors open.
A new face on the scene is furniture restorer, Jo Murray. The 35-year-old, who launched her business Joanna Murray a year ago, creates traditional and classic English designs from old furniture she finds in house sales.
Jo, who moved to Knutsford from Bristol six years ago, is mostly self-taught as furniture restoration has long been her hobby. But she also completed an upholstery course. She is inspired by the Georgian architecture of the town.
Jo said: I love my work because I am working with items that would have been thrown away and I am giving them a new lease of life. Its very satisfying.
Knutsford is also a very inspiring place and I love living here. It is a very friendly place and Im so glad I moved here.