18th July 2023

Happy Birthday from our CEO

Steve Nichols looks back on 50 years at the Trust.

Our 50th year has been full of celebrations already and with many more events to come in the second part of the year, Steve Nichols looks back on all the Trust has achieved over that time.


“I am really pleased that so many supporters, families, tenants, trustees, and staff at the Trust have been able to attend our celebration events. Our 50th anniversary is a very special occasion, and it is worth remembering what has happened to get us to this point in our history.

Firstly, looking back 50 years to 1973 and we are massively indebted to both the Chapman and Hyde families for their extensive generosity. They sold their respective homes to buy Rossendale Hall in which they then utilised the upstairs for their living quarters. At the same time, they made provision for the ground floor accommodation to secure a permanent home for people with a learning disability. This provided support to families in the community at a time when there was a scarcity of these critically important facilities.


A brief summary of early developments :-

  • 1976 – the first short stay unit (where Rose Gardens is now situated)
  • 1981 – year of disaster and floods which caused serious damage to the short stay unit and part of the grounds.
  • 1985 – the purchase of Woodlands Lodge on Byrons Lane
  • 1987 – guests and staff appear on BBC in a programme titled “if you love him let him go” – watched by over 10 million viewers.
  • 1988 – purchase of Cavendale Lodge at Buxton and soon after purchase of Paddocks, also at Buxton.

Looking back at our historical records from the early 1980’s, shows names from the past who were responsible for the running of the Trust. In the early days, the likes of Michael Jones, David Robinson, Nigel West and Ray Nichols, who was chair for 25 years, were prominent in the development of the Trust.

Moving the clock forward through the 1990s and to more recent times where Moira, our current Chair, has been an absolute constant. Her dedication and support have been exceptional. Moira always puts the Trust first and all at the Trust recognise her excellent contribution over many years

A special thank you should also be made to all those staff who have been exceptional – in dedicating more than 20 years of their working life to the Trust.

The gold medal awards go to Buxton and Canalside – with both Sue Langley and Debbie Thorlby having achieved 35 years . But also, very special mentions to Carole Naden, Esme Downes, Jayne Naden, Julie Salt, Rosie Bourne, Sue Walwyn, Lou Coales and Jason Blythe having achieved this excellent landmark. 

Since the turn of the century, the Trust has made real progress despite the usual financial problems with our commissioning services.

In 2007 we were gifted properties by the Hovis Group, which has been the starting point in building a suitable property portfolio for the future long-term benefit for our tenants.

From 2010-2013 -you may recall that we expanded dramatically our tenant base, with support from a housing partnership. Within a four-year period, we built Riverside, Rose Gardens and Canalside which cumulatively housed 48 tenants.

From 2016-2019 we purchased a further four properties – Bank Street, Braeside, Thirlmere and Maple Avenue which gave the Trust, the capacity to fill a further twelve tenancies. (With the further 8-10 at Buxton since the early days, of course).

A further benefit from these decisions is that we get better income streams from this new venture, which we can use to reward our hard-working staff.

So, moving the clock forward, to reflect a full 50 years of constant progress to 2023. The Trust now supports over 100 families, tenants and external attendees who are being given daily support at our Charity.

I must of course mention our incredible tenants – The most moving, touching, and amusing stories are almost always related to our tenants.

The lovely exchange of words between carer and tenant. Question – “How do you feel about your working at the Co- Op on Buxton Road” Answer – “it makes me feel like a real person”.

Or the story of tenant Nick – who was helping and supervising the building of Riverside, in 2010, with Rowlinsons, our contractors – this in his recently acquired high viz jacket and hard hat. When the important cement wagon turned up, Nick advised the driver, (with authority), that he had come to the wrong place, and redirected him around Rainow and Bollington for the next hour and a half.

On a separate occasion, a visitor was having trouble parking in a tight space in our main car park – which as we all know, is almost always full to bursting. One of the tenants generously gave clear directions to reverse, until the driver hit the bridge. At which time, the tenant ran off, claiming it had nothing to do with him.

The moment at the London Marathon – when Eleanor, in a sea of thousands of spectators – was embraced out of the blue by one of our exhausted marathon runners at the 25-mile point – thus capturing a very special moment for the camera.

This, incidentally, was the race, in which our marathon superstar Toby Eyre achieved his incredible £50,000 target for the Trust – covering a generation of care for our tenants.

On a similar theme – the Manchester 10k 2019 – and heading down the final stretch. The outstanding Trevor Kennerley, in his wheelchair, stated to his exhausted helpers Karl and Jason, “I’m going to win this”. Even more amusingly as they crossed the finishing line he commented – “I’ll sleep well tonight!”. Poor Jason and Karl were knackered.

Life is not always happiness and joy – 2020-2022 were the COVID years. These did set us back and tested the fortitude and resolve of our wonderful staff. However, COVID did not win. None of our tenants caught the virus for eighteen months and we had no serious illness throughout the epidemic.

The great spirit and determination of the team was clearly evidenced throughout this difficult period. The COVID situation made us realise how much we missed the daily interaction with the tenants, especially at Rossendale Hall.

We missed Jonny Tench checking that all the rooms at the Hall were in good order and Rick Nichols sauntering round with his familiar question to the ladies “are you married love?”

And of course, Edward with his sheriff’s badge – insisting on a daily basis, the importance of photocopying news about Everton FC or ongoing scandals within the UK police force. In hindsight, COVID probably saved the Trust about a thousand pounds in photocopier costs.

The happy atmosphere at Rossendale is captured on a daily basis in the late afternoon. With 4.00pm approaching and time for taxi pick-ups ,there is a real hive of activity, noise and laughter between the tenants, care staff and Oakwood staff which epitomizes the buzz across the Trust.

Back to reflecting on the success of the Trust and its worth focusing on our two major marketing businesses – these are the important assets that differentiate Rossendale from other charities and providers –

Work Taste – the brilliant, supported employment programme, started from scratch in 2013, has provided working opportunities for over 70 people with a learning disability. We have had over 60 different companies supporting the Trust. Currently we have 40 work placements, and also provide 10 internships, and a PA service with six external clients.

Oakwood has been a revelation. Twenty years ago, in 2003, we provided about 50 half day sessions per week for 17 tenants and external visitors. Then, there were seven activities.

Fast forward to 2023, and we now provide nearly 450 half day sessions per week with 21 different activities – giving choice, social contact, and enjoyment to all concerned.

Both these critically important services help remove social isolation and teach valuable life skills. In combination they entertain over 140 individuals on a constant basis.

In conjunction with these businesses, the last ten years in terms of fundraising have been exceptional, and – we have raised nearly £2million in this period, much of it thanks to the generosity of local support – also many thanks to Sue and Susanne.

The overall progress of the business can simply be measured by looking at our annual financial accounts. In the year 2002 we had activities totaling £800k and 80 full-time staff and in 2022 we had activities totaling nearly £6m and 140 full-time staff. This is a business that needs to be developed further!

 One area of strategic improvement has been around service levels, and the care team management are constantly improving operations across the Trust. Our constant primary aim, and objective is to achieve an “Outstanding” rating from the regulator – the Care Quality Commission.

A wide range of initiatives are complementary, in meeting the qualities of being a caring, effective, safe, responsive, and well-led charity. The primary focus at present is on digitization, communication, and the external tools to improve our brand, marketing, media and the new website, which went live this week.

In terms of external recognition, the Trust has been consistently rewarded at local, regional and national level. In the past three years, we have received gold medal awards from the local Chambers of Commerce as – Business of the Year, Employer of the Year, and Best Company to Work for.

And nationally we have been ranked in the top 50 of the Sunday Times UK, Not for Profit, Companies to work for.

This April, we were Runner -Up at the Cheshire Awards, held at Chester University and also a winner at the prestigious Princess Royal UK Training Awards 2023, which was presented in London by Princess Anne, in person.

In Summary – We have come a long way ……… We have a great workforce. Our carers are the best in the business, and we are determined that we will continue to improve their salary, and working conditions, at every opportunity.

We have a really good care management team, and Head Office team, who bond well together – and always want to improve.

We are developing well as a leadership team – with great support from the Trustees in providing professional leadership training. Also, the care team is extremely well-led.

And we have an excellent and supportive Trustee Board, who are assisting – and mentoring us -in our goal to be the best charity possible.

So that is a brief summary of the last 50 years – let’s look forward very positively – to the next 50!”


Rossendale Trust

Get in touch!

Ring us on 01260 252500 Email us at hello@rossendaletrust.org

Our Core Values

Warm The Trust is a homely environment where everyone feels welcome and well supported. Respectful We respect and appreciate others for their individual beliefs, passions, goals and choices, whilst embracing person centred care. Inclusive The Trust provides an inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds can come together and feel valued.

The Rossendale Trust Ltd,
Rossendale Hall, Hollin Lane,
SK11 0HR

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