Reporter: Laura Wild
Date online: 01 September 2010
The Chairman of LEAF, Steve Lister
Have you ever wondered who organises the Littleborough Rushbearing Festival, or who gets everybody together to celebrate the Christmas Lights switch on in Littleborough?
The answer is LEAF – Littleborough events and associations forum.
As part of Rochdale Online’s Focus on Littleborough month this September reporter Laura Wild met up with the Chairman of LEAF to find out more about the organisation, what it does, and why.
Steve Lister is the chairman of LEAF and has been since the group began in 2008, he, along with other group members organises events which attract people from far and wide to Littleborough.
Mr Lister explained why LEAF was set up and what it means to him.
“Littleborough is such a fabulous place and so many people care about it, there is about 108 different community groups in the town all doing their bit to make Littleborough a better place, but we weren’t all pulling together in the same direction, so the aim was to get anybody from these community groups to come together and start pulling in the same direction.
“A couple of years ago I visited another carnival and I just thought why can’t Littleborough have a carnival like this?
“A few of us discussed it and got together and started the organisation for the Littleborough Rushbearing Festival, we wanted to expand the festival and give it a village fair feel.
Mr Lister continued: “Representatives from about a dozen local groups form LEAF, we meet regularly to plan things such as the Rushbearing and the lights switch on at Christmas.
“I believe it is important to keep traditions alive, whilst still respecting others,” said Mr Lister.
The aim of LEAF is to promote Littleborough as a tourist attraction, Mr Lister explained: “We want to show people that there is a reason to come here and hopefully they will come back once they have seen what the place is like – although there is no way of knowing unless we do a survey.
“What we do know is that the attendance of our events is getting better.”
For Mr Lister the best part is when the event, what ever it may be, has come together.
“I get my kicks out of standing in Hare Hill Park at around 3pm on the day of the Rushbearing Festival, seeing the Vikings and the dancers and the dogs and the children laughing – seeing the park full of people enjoying themselves and knowing that LEAF did that,” said the Littleborough enthusiast.
All the members of LEAF bring different skills to the meeting and Mr Lister’s role is primarily to hold everything together.
Various groups are incorporated into the organisation, including:
• The friends of Hare Hill Park
• The NSPCC
• The Civic Trust
• The Friends of Littleborough Station
• The Littleborough Lions
• The Littleborough Coach House
• The Rochdale Morris Dancers
“Of course we aren’t the only organisation doing things in Littleborough,” said Mr Lister, “And we will work with anybody, we are a part of Littleborough and we are all for co-operation.
“We want to bring the people of Littleborough together after all it is the jewel in the crown of Rochdale.”
LEAF meet once a month and Mr Lister said they all “sing from the same hymn sheet.”
“We are all about working with other people,” he said.
At the monthly meetings the representatives of all the different groups spend time planning new and existing events and throwing ideas around to see what else they can organise.
Mr Lister said: “It’s funny really how ideas develop – we had the idea of a farmers market and from that we had the idea of a pickle competition – it is fun and something I look forward to every month, it comes around so fast.”
As time goes on the group aims to become more recognised, gain new members and attract people to Littleborough.
Being what Mr Lister described as “semi- official” means that the group is becoming more recognised and gaining support in plentiful supplies.
According to Mr Lister, LEAF is “blossoming” all the time, he explained that the group is confident to try new ideas and make links with other people and organisations.”
For Mr Lister the thing that really stands out to him about Littleborough is the setting and the people.
When asked about the ultimate dream for LEAF, Mr Lister said: “I would love to have something going on in every pub, club and the corner of every street, like the Marsden Jazz Festival – to provide something for everybody.”
The members of LEAF work hard to pull off events which are attended by people in Littleborough and also people who travel far and wide to visit the beautiful hidden gem of the borough of Rochdale.
The next thing to look out for in the Littleborough calendar is the Christmas Lights Switch on which Mr Lister said is “all in hand.”
To find out about more community groups in Littleborough visit: