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Lemn brings the fun as Our Big Day is a big hit for local children

16 July 2019

Lemn Sissay on stage.

Hundreds of young people and carers were entertained by poet Lemn Sissay at our celebration day for the achievements of the borough's cared for children.

The ceremony was part of Our Big Day, a day-long mini-festival exclusively for children who are in our care and living with fostering families.

Each child received a certificate and goody bag, having been nominated by those closest to them for achieving something special in the past year in categories such as Being an Outstanding Role Model and Caring for Others, Outstanding Engagement or Progress in Education and Outstanding Determination, Resilience and Positive Attitude.

Special recognition award recipients this year included a boy aged 11 who has been a positive force in school, spreading his love for reading to all.

An 11-year-old girl was also recognised for her tremendous sporting achievement for excelling in football.

The 'We Care' film group were also recognised for their inspirational film that raises awareness of children in care and their experiences.

'It was clear we were very proud of our cared for children'

Lemn said he was blown away; telling the audience it was a fantastic feel-good event and that it was clear we were very proud of our cared for children.

Care leaver Carl, 21, who is studying film and writing at Cambridge University, joined Lemn on stage to present the Life Skills and Independence award. It was an inspiration to his younger audience to hear of his achievements and showed what other cared for children have to aspire to.

Councillor Rachel Massey.

'Our Big Day is a tremendous event and we are very proud that we put this on each year'

Councillor Rachel Massey, assistant portfolio holder for children's services, said: "It was such a privilege to share this day with our inspirational cared for children, the ceremony was wonderful. Lemn spoke with such passion about all the things our children can achieve and the entertainment afterwards was incredible, always helped by the glorious weather. Our Big Day is a tremendous event and we are very proud that we put this on each year, thanks to all those involved in the event."

Following the ceremony, the event went outside into the sunshine where there was a wide array of fun activities for families to get involved in, including; an inflatable assault course, messy play, crafts, football with Rochdale Football Club, a variety of sports to try out, face painting, henna and a whole host of other attractions – all free for attendees to enjoy. There was also hot dogs, burgers and ice cream on offer to all.

Local singer Danny Dearden, who has appeared on the X Factor, also entertained crowds in the sunshine and Greater Manchester Police and Fire Service were on hand to show off their sirens, vehicles and equipment.

Gail Hopper.

'We are really proud of all of our children and their successes'

Gail Hopper, director of children's services, said: "I am always impressed with the truly inspirational stories that come from the nominations to Our Big Day. We are really proud of all of our children and their successes. Each year the event grows and we get more and more nominations, it's a true reflection on their fantastic achievements and the support and encouragement they receive from those around them. They and their carers should be very proud. The day is about recognition and a chance for them all to have fun and celebrate."

Our Big Day is organised by Rochdale Borough Council and many volunteers with support from sponsors; Oulder Hill Community School, the Co-Op, Real Trust, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Rochdale AFC, Engie, GFM, Link4Life and Ranstad.

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