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Why Clitheroe is a vibrant and exciting place

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 January 2017

Clitheroe Ukulele Orchestra in front of Clitheroe Castle

Clitheroe Ukulele Orchestra in front of Clitheroe Castle

Archant

Mairead Mahon meets some of the creative people of the Ribble Valley town. Photography by Kirsty Thompson.

Lisa Pickles, The Time Train Lisa Pickles, The Time Train

They’re a creative lot in Clitheroe and, when inspiration strikes, they waste no time in making those dreams come true. Of course, every dream requires determination and, luckily, they’re not short of that either.

Someone who can vouch for that is Kath Lord-Green. She was one of the prime movers in making sure that the local community radio station secured an Ofcom licence and they don’t hand those out like lollipops.

‘They certainly don’t,’ says Kath, who is station manager of Ribble FM 106.7 and who, with a team of volunteers, puts in 12-16 hour days in order to make their dream come true.

‘It has been hard work – at one point I was broadcasting and putting up soundproofing while tracks were playing – but we’ve had so much encouragement from the local community that it has been worth it. Local businesses have been supportive too – we are very lucky to be in such a vibrant area.’

Sarah Clemson and Andy Schofield, Longitude Gallery Sarah Clemson and Andy Schofield, Longitude Gallery

‘Vibrant’ is an apt word to describe the creative businesses of Clitheroe and one that can certainly be applied to Jenna Barnes, who owns and runs Raine and Bea, a bespoke lingerie company named after her daughters. Jenna makes exquisite pieces for those who fancy spoiling themselves a little and that includes famous names like Will Young, who requested onesies for himself and his friends.

‘A little unusual, I grant you but to be fair, Will knew my work because I had made the costumes for the West End production of Cabaret he starred in,’ says Jenna.

He isn’t the only famous name associated with Jenna. She has also worked backstage for Celine Dion’s show and Rhiannon’s stylist has recently asked for samples. Singer Fleur East is a huge fan and Coronation Street actress, Brooke Vincent selected one of Jenna’s corset dresses to wear to an awards ceremony. Her designs have even been featured on the iconic Pirelli calendar as well as on ‘How the Other Half Lives’ with Eamon Holmes and Ruth Langsford.

‘I’m sometimes asked if I’m going to move to a city but why would I? Clitheroe is buzzing and, after all, no matter how big the name, they find their way here,’ says Jenna.

That’s true. Clitheroe is no back water when it comes to making a name on the national or, in the case of Lisa Pickles and Matt Taylor, the international arena.

The pair, who own The Time Train, a quirky collectibles shop, came to the attention of Jesse McClure, star of the American programme, Storage Hunters. It led to Matt starring in a new version, ‘British Treasure, American Gold’ in which he helps Jesse to find collectibles in the UK to sell in the USA.

But how did an American TV star find his way to Clitheroe in the first place?

‘Well, I think Clitheroe does have a creative reputation and, when he came here to see for himself, he was impressed with the fact that we keep our imaginations open and that locals have such variety of interesting things that they bring to us. He was really excited by some of our stock. Mind you, so am I,’ laughs Lisa.

That’s not too much of a surprise - as well as selling items like vinyl records and vintage comics, the shop is also home to taxidermy, the occasional ejector seat from a Vulcan bomber and, ideal for that empty corner, a ghoul from a ghost train at Blackpool!

In her 15 years of providing an interior design service for prestigious homes throughout the North West, Annette Chitty has yet to be asked to provide a ghoul from a ghost train. ‘Well, not yet,’ laughs Annette who runs her design service from Maison Interiors, an exquisite shop stuffed with everything the fashionable home could want.

‘Ribble Valley people are proud of their homes and, whether it’s a cottage or a mansion, they like to be creative. This winter, they’re bang on trend with warm wools and tartans,’ adds Annette, who also runs furniture painting courses from a studio at the back of her Tardis-like emporium.

Painting of a different kind is on at offer at the stylish Longitude Art Gallery, run by Sarah Clemson and Andy Schofield. It is a beautiful airy space, complete with views over Pendle Hill, so no wonder national artists are keen to exhibit here.

‘Yes, but we are also keen to help local creative talent, of which there is plenty, so every January and February, we do just that by giving space over to local arts groups,’ explains Sarah.

Visitors to Longitude are left to browse by themselves with help on hand if needed. ‘Many Clitheroe people are culturally aware, so we don’t need to pop up as soon as they come in,’ says Sarah, who with Andy, has devised the idea of The Art Dinner. The next one will be held in the spring and they are hugely popular. Well, why they wouldn’t they be: the gallery is transformed into a dining room, with a pop up kitchen and, over champagne and a top notch meal, guests talk art with an invited artist and each other.

Food and creativity do seem to go hand in hand in Clitheroe and Cath Spendlove of The Wedding Cake Co is a fine example.

From simply making cakes at home to winning this year’s Great Northern Wedding Award for cakes, Cath made her dream come true with hard work and determination. Now based at Bashall Barn, she makes creations for brides from all over the UK.

‘When I have to deliver, I wrap the cake in bubble wrap, put it in my van and drive, very very gingerly,’ laughs Cath.

Her birthday cakes are popular too and not just because they’re delicious, but also because of Cath’s imagination - who else would have the bright idea of a cake with lightbulbs on top, or one designed as a teapot pouring tea?

The creative folk of Clitheroe have plenty to blow their own trumpet about but if no trumpets are available, how about The Clitheroe Ukulele Orchestra?

Founded by Pete Monk and John Parkinson in 2013, they are quickly becoming one of the most popular in the north, performing at more than 30 gigs a year. Just like the other Clitheroe creatives, they have something to sing about!

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