Gordon Wilkinson paints Whitworth

PUBLISHED: 12:09 07 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:31 20 February 2013

Gordon Wilkinson paints Whitworth

Gordon Wilkinson paints Whitworth

Our watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson paints Whitworth

We all remember a teacher whose influence spread beyond the classroom - some inspired a love of reading, music or art, but David Chorlton was most impressed that his primary school teacher, Mrs Makin, was a former mayor of Prestwich.

Now, more than 30 years later, David has just handed over the mayoral chains after completing his year in the post in Whitworth.

I thought it was great that she had been a mayor, said David. And throughout my year as mayor I had children who would otherwise just walk past, staring, pointing and speaking to me because I was mayor.

Adults can be impressed too, as David, who also runs a bathroom and kitchen company, has found out. Some people are rather taken aback when the mayor comes to fit their bathroom, he said.

It has been an amazing year and I have met so many lovely people. About two weeks in to the year I was invited, along with other new mayors and consorts, to a celebration at Blackburn Cathedral. I felt a bit of a fraud sitting there alongside people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who have been doing this sort of thing much longer than I have.

You do get used to it, though, and grow into the role. The whole thing is such an honour. I can understand why people find it hard to give up.

And David, 41, added: My advice for the new mayor is to make time for yourself, dont over-stretch yourself and dont eat too much. Ive put on a stone during my year - around Christmas I had 15 mince pies in a few days and then theres all the big dinners.

Hes now planning to spend more time walking off the extra pounds in the hills which surround this delightful town.

It may look on a map like a small town strung out along the road between Rochdale and Bacup but Whitworth is a bustling place with a strong sense of community and lots going on. And while it is brimming with local pride, it has national and international significance too. Stone from Whitworth quarries was used for Trafalgar Square and as the base for the Eiffel Tower.

The highlight of the Whitworth events calendar is the Rushcart festival, being held this year on September 11, which last year attracted more than 1,500 people to watch the parade which included teams of dancers, musicians and entertainers.

Some of the history of the ancient tradition is chronicled on a website created by Mike Burgess who now lives in the neighbouring village of Healey. The site also includes scores of photographs and old postcards of Whitworth and Mike said: It started as a hobby, as a way of encouraging more people to visit this beautiful valley.

I tried it on a few friends, asking what might encourage them to visit, and it grew from there. The site has had some lovely comments from people who have visited and from ex pats reminiscing about living in the area.

The road to Whitworth

Where it is: Whitworth stands along the A671, roughly half way between Rochdale and Bacup and about six miles north of junction 20 on the M62. If you have a sat nav, OL12 8RU should lead you to the town centre. The most convenient railway station is at Rochdale about four miles away. There is a regular bus service between the towns.

Where to park:
There are six, fairly small, long stay council run car parks in Whitworth and some on-street parking is available too.

What to do: There are scores of great walking and cycling routes around Whitworth, a ski centre, a swimming pool and the highest golf tee in England. And once youve had your fill of fresh air, head to one of the pubs for sustenance.

Be a sport: Whitworth Sport Festival is one of the highlights of the calendar in this glorious part of Lancashire. Between June 18 and 26, there will be 21 sporting events at 15 venues, bringing in many participants and spectators. A rugby league sevens tournament kicks off the festival. The following day will see one of the stand-out events - the Triathlon. Over the course of the festival there will be a host of events including a marathon, golf, showjumping, cricket, badminton and snooker. For more information contact Mr Jo Furtado on 01706 853442.

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