Rochdale's M6 Theatre is thanking the borough's unsung heroes for all their efforts this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video shared on Rochdale Borough Council's social media channels, Deborah Palmer, chief executive of the renowned theatre company thanks "everyone who's worked selflessly for the good of us all … during what has been a really challenging year."
On Thursday, 24 December 2020 (Christmas Eve), M6 Theatre are inviting everyone to watch their family friendly film 'When We Started Singing' on their website. It will be available all day free of charge. The short film, supported by Rochdale Borough Council and filmed in Rochdale follows the uplifting story of Mr Popple, a kind man who lives alone with just his pet tortoise, Tommy, for company. When his neighbours suddenly find themselves housebound, he notices their struggles and sets out to share some joy. His acts of kindness transform strangers into friends (and pop stars) and a community is born. The film ends with a unifying song, partly signed by the cast using British Sign Language.
"It's been a tough year, but we wanted to say a big thank you, send season's greetings and encourage everyone to reflect for a moment and remember all the acts of kindness we have seen this year. Challenging times bring out the best in Rochdale and that's what makes the community so special" added artistic director Gilly Baskeyfield.
Children in primary schools across the borough have been enjoying 'When We Started Singing' as part of the school's linking programme which the council's runs to celebrate difference, promote equality and bring a sense of togetherness between pupils.
With coronavirus restrictions cancelling events and moving more content and performances online, the M6 Theatre film follows last month's virtual Christmas lights celebration which was streamed online for the first time. The mayor, councillor Billy Sheerin hosted the virtual event from the mayor's parlour with a guest appearance from Father Christmas himself and a 'from home' performance of 'Stop The Cavalry' by Rochdale Music Service as well as illuminated displays, cribs and Christmas trees twinkling across the borough. If you missed it, you can watch it again on
Rochdale Borough Council's YouTube channel
In a few days the council will also release another film online showing residents preparing for Christmas at home after they put a call out for local people to send in video clips and images of their Christmas trees and light displays.
The mayor councillor Billy Sheerin said after such a tough 2020 it's important we come together:
"In many ways it's a Christmas like no other and sadly we've not been able to hold our events and celebrations in the usual way, but we want to acknowledge the impact that COVID-19 has had on so many lives whilst sharing that message of hope for better times ahead, which is a message behind this lovely When We Started Singing film from M6 Theatre."
The mayor is also asking everyone to ring a bell for Santa at 6pm on Christmas Eve. Along the same lines as summer's 'clap for carers', the idea is to step outside your front door and ring a bell for 2 minutes to spread Christmas spirit and for children to thank Father Christmas as he sets off on his epic journey around the world.
"Despite the pandemic, Father Christmas is a keyworker and his elves have managed to come out of furlough, so it would be lovely for our community and create wonderful memories for children. I still want to see us come together as a borough and end 2020 with hope and optimism."