• Cheshire West and Chester Council is asking for views on proposals to extend its pedestrianisation in Chester as part of a wider engagement, supporting its One City Plan. Plans are for Bridge Street, Watergate Street, Northgate Street and Eastgate Street to continue to be closed to traffic from 10.30am till 8pm, and for the scheme to be widened to include the extension of restrictions on St Werburgh Street, Frodsham Street and Foregate Street from 10.30am till 4pm on Sundays. This would bring these areas in line with the current restrictions which are in place Monday to Saturday.  The Council would like to know what residents, businesses and visitors think of this idea. The Council’s Deputy Leader Karen Shore said: “Much has changed over the last two years. The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone think about what is important to them and how they can adapt their lifestyle. Chester city centre has faced the same challenges with retailers finding new ways of delivering their products and services to customers.  One of the changes we have seen in the city is the increase in the number of hospitality venues offering alfresco drinking and dining.  This has added a vibrant and exciting dynamic which has bridged the gap between the daytime and night-time economies.  This is something the Council is keen to encourage and continue This engagement is asking for people’s views on extending and enhancing the pedestrianisation in Chester.  Please do get involved and let us know what you think of this proposal.” Anyone with comments can view the engagement on the Council’s Participate Now website.  Comments can also be emailed to chesterlocality@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
  • As previously reported on our blog Thrive GB on Old Seals Way is a different concept to usual retail stores, offering a ‘pop-up’ platform for start-ups and small traders that are looking to reach the wider community with their entrepreneurial ideas. Operating within the large unit that once housed ‘Outfit’ and brands within the Arcadia Group, Thrive GB is a large food-hall, café/bar and huge open ‘Butlers’ market offering local and regionally sourced wines and spirits, homeware, plants and beauty. Small businesses have a variety of ways to showcase their products within the large store; via a staffed or unstaffed concession, drop-shipping via the upcoming e-commerce website or selling in-person at the artisan Butlers market. Thrive GB is being supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Business Support Programme and funded by an additional restrictions grant (ARG), which is helping businesses to grow and succeed by paying for start-up, commercial and training costs. Martin Butler, of Thrive GB, said: “Our ethos is about creating a platform for artisan, sustainable, local and less established brands to give these talented makers a home. The store has a farmers-market style foodhall, pop-up market, cafe & bar, organic beauty, gifting and homeware department.” Among the businesses operating at the foodhall is TVJ Bakery, which is run by Luke Jones from Chester who has ambitions to eventually service local hotels with his gluten-free baked products including delicate pastries, authentic pizzas and feather-light cakes. There is also a variety of lifestyle crafts and homeware on sale such as Mark Sollars’ ‘Quirky Lighting’ stall, offering customers’ niche décor, as well as Woodfords Aromatherapy, which is run by aromatherapist Paula Marshall who has developed a range of massage balms.  There are also services available for visitors such as Spencer’s Friends, which is a mobile shoe-fitting service for children that aims to take the stress out of the new-term ‘nightmare’. Councillor Richard Beacham said: “Through the West Cheshire Business Support Programme, we’ve been able to support a diverse range of businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs; with a mix of start-up funding, skills support and assistance with capital to get them off the ground. Thrive’ is an example where we’ve been able to support the retail sector, much affected by COVID and in doing so have championed local entrepreneurs by providing a platform for them to showcase their products and services, which we hope will benefit other businesses too.”

  • Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Flintshire, will host a free, online event called ‘Reading Race: the Power of Literature’ at 6.30pm on May 5. The talk, which is designed to introduce viewers to both fiction and non-fiction that deals with equity, anti-racism and equality, is free to attend and will be held on Zoom.   It will feature works like Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race and Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala. The speakers are Wales-based activists Nkechi Allen-Dawson, Omolara Cordle, Jackie Anyango and Shanice Burke, joined by author Noor Yusuf.  Jackie Anyango, who is the diversity and inclusion and BAME (black and minority ethnic) network lead for a major company, said: “This talk is about equipping people with the knowledge that we all need to take part in creating an anti-racist environment. “I think that, because of the different aspects of social issues covered by these books, they allow people to see other stories, and to hear from people who have lived through a system of inequality, and they allow us to challenge that thinking.”  Nkechi Allen-Dawson, co-chair of the Embrace Network, has spoken at numerous public events in Wales about the need to articulate the experiences of black and minority ethnic people. She said: “I believe in everybody having a purpose and one of my purposes is bringing people together from all walks of life, and books are a way of doing that. “They offer messages, they evoke emotions and they also offer a way to articulate experiences that readers may never have thought they would be able to put on paper or see on paper.”To join in, visit https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/events/events-courses-list/reading-race-an-online-panel 
Omolara Cordle, Shanice Burke, Nkechi Allen-Dawson, Jackie Anyango and Noor Yusuf (L – R). 
  • Final preparations are underway at a Chester art gallery for the staging of a major exhibition featuring the work of a Cheshire born artist whose paintings capture the rugged beauty of the Isle of Anglesey, the place she has called home for the last 60 years. The exhibition, which opens at Gorstella Gallery at Tudor Farm in Dodleston near Chester from Thursday 12th May at 6.30pm features a retrospective of works by acclaimed artist Audrey Hind RCA which spans her 60-year career from the 1960s to the present day. Works by David Grosvenor, Christopher Rainham and Colin Halliday will also be on display, with all paintings and a number of limited-edition prints available to purchase. The exhibition will include a drinks reception on Thursday 12th and Friday 13th between 6.30pm and 9.00pm. Viewings will also be available on Saturday 14th, Sunday 15th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd May between 11am and 5.00pm and thereafter by appointment. There will also be an opportunity to meet artist Audrey Hind at the opening of the exhibition on Thursday 12th May. Born in Cheshire, Audrey Hind, studied at Northwich College of Art, Manchester and Liverpool Colleges of Art. A resident of Anglesey since 1962 and a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy(RCA) since 1978, her paintings are influenced by living on the island under the shadow of the mountains of Snowdonia and surrounded by the Irish Sea. Audrey’s work can be found in both private and public collections throughout the UK including those of HM The Queen Mother, British Steel, Unilever, Anglesey Borough Council, Shell UK and The National Library of Wales. Audrey’s works are a mix of watercolour, mixed media and oil paintings. In 1983, Audrey was Artist/Printmaker in Residence at Port Sunlight. Audrey, who at 85, is still producing new work said “I wish to express my thanks and gratitude to Gorstella Gallery for honour of this Retrospective Exhibition showing examples of my work over 60 years on Anglesey”. The gallery which was founded in 1990 by Peter and Klazien Bullivant is now run by their daughter Bridget who said “For over 60 years, Audrey has been painting the Anglesey landscape and this exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to see the best in Welsh art.” Full details about the exhibition and Gorstella Gallery can be found at www.gorstellagallery.co.uk
  • Members of Chester Music Society are preparing to stage Handel’s masterpiece “Messiah” at Chester Cathedral on Saturday 14th May at 7.30pm. The concert is the grand finale to a season of events marking the Society’s 75th Anniversary.  Performed annually throughout the UK since its first performance in 1742, Handel’s Messiah tells the story from the prophecy to the birth, death and resurrection of Christ in a series of recitatives, solo arias and choruses. From the opening Comfort ye my people, through Hallelujah and I know that my Redeemer Liveth, to the final chorus, Worthy is the Lamb, Messiah is now deeply embedded in the British musical consciousness.  Last performed by Chester Music Society Choir in 2016, this performance promises to provide a moving experience, performed with professional soloists and orchestra in the historic surroundings of Chester Cathedral. The concert will feature Soprano Milly Forrest, Mezzo Soprano Elizabeth Paul, Tenor Toby Ward and Bass James Cleverton together with the Chester Music Society Choir and Liverpool Sinfonia under the musical direction of Graham Jordan Ellis. Speaking about being able to finally perform once again following the removal of Covid restrictions, John Ferrari, the Chair of Chester Music Society Choir said: “After having missed two full years of performances due to Covid, CMS Choir is delighted to be back in business once again. Audience numbers are rebuilding again and we are sure Cheshire music lovers will be as glad as we are to be able to hear and enjoy this glorious work once again”. Tickets for the concert priced at £10 (side aisles), £20 (west steps) and £25 (nave) are available via www.chestermusicsociety.org.uk alternatively, contact the box office on 01244 500959.
  • Fun, action and 1950s retro will be the order of the day for all four of West Cheshire Museums in the extended four-day bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (2-5 June). The events will include a Platinum Garden party; an Animal Parade picnic, the showing of 1950s films and a display of 1950s clothes. There will be craft activities at each site and screens playing a specially-made Jubilee Film showing photos from the museums’ archive collection as well as commentary. Events are not dependent on visitors paying to go around the museums but there will be a small charge, to cover materials, for all children’s activities. Events at the Grovenor Museum will include : free films in the lecture theatre featuring footage of the Coronation and Chester in the 1950s, Theatre in the Quarter’s Jubilee film, a 1950s costume gallery display, plus the rare chance to handle and admire 1950s items from around the Museum. The Museum’s History Hub will feature an exhibition of photos from Chester in the 1950s and there will be fun Jubilee craft activities available from Thursday to Saturday (not Sunday). There will be a small display of royal collection items in the Museum Foyer and for people living with Dementia there will be a themed event.  For more information, including events at Weaver Hall Museum, Lion Salt Works and Stretton Watermill see go www.westcheshiremuseums.co.uk 
  • Celebrating its 4th anniversary this week is The Interiors Shop, Westminster park. Owner Rosalind Ellis said : “It’s hard to believe but on Tuesday 26th April 2022 we will celebrate our 4th anniversary! To mark this momentous occasion I will be opening the fizz every day and hosting a variety of competitions and discounts to express my thanks to you for such an incredible journey. I’ve enjoyed every minute of welcoming you here over the years, whether it’s been to buy home accessories and gifts, seek help with your interior design dilemmas or even attending one of our events and workshops. So please do join me from 10am to 4pm Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th April to join in the fun and help us celebrate!
  • Next up at Chester Little Theatre is THE GHOST TRAIN by Arthur Ridley (7-14 May 7.30). Directed by Yvette Owen. “Chester Little Theatre takes a fresh look at this classic thriller by Arthur Ridley and discovers that it’s an off-the-rails comedy! The Ghost Train is set in a small Cornish railway station in 1930.  A very silly young man chases his hat rather than getting on the train.   As a result he and six passengers have to pass the night in a chilly waiting room.  Their sojourn is not improved by the old stationmaster, who tells them of the phantom train that haunts the tracks after dark!” BOOK TICKETS – CLICK HERE

  • Sunday 1st May, ALexanders Live, Rufus Court will host the BEYOND THE WALLS festival. Featuring music from By The Sea , SPQR , Novelty Island , Me & Deboe , The Shipbuilders, DEH-YEY, Torture and the Desert Spiders , Toria Wooff , Pelican Band, Sara Wolff, Screaming Devil Pleasure Beach , J. Madden , Nikki & the Waves , Anti-Honey, Astles , Anna Houghton, Robert Alun, Danny Bradley , Clara Day and James Kitchen. Beyond the Walls will spotlight some of Merseyside’s finest alternative talent, alongside a host of local favourites. Split across two stages, we’re delighted to announce art-rock outfit SPQR will headline in the garden, before the Bill Ryder-Jones produced By The Sea close out in style in the courtyard. 12pm – 12am // £6 adv // £8 otd // www.alexanderslive.com. Beyond the Walls is family friendly, under 12s are free, and there will be a bbq and outdoor bar. Ticket link: https://alexanderslive.seetickets.com/event/beyond-the-walls/alexander-s-live/2277128
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