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Celebrities and local legends celebrate Oldham's 175th birthday

Local legends and Oldham council bosses came together on Tuesday night to celebrate the 175th birthday of the borough.

Oldham Athletic chairman and fundraising champion Frank Rothwell joined Rugby icon Mike Ford and BBC masterchef star Rima Aishah Begum to commemorate the occasion. 

The event at Oldham’s central library marked 175 years since the 1849 charter of incorporation, giving the township the power of a local government.

Council leader Arooj Shah said: “Oldham has a proud and glorious past and it’s only right we celebrate our wonderful borough as we mark its 175th anniversary.

“Our town is not only important to its residents, but has also made its mark nationally and internationally.”

The Oldham stars recalled the formative part the town had played in getting them where they were today and shared what they thought was special about their hometowns. 

“The people,” said Rothwell without hesitation. 

Rima Aishah agreed. “Oldham is like a big family,” she said “There’s so much diversity and unity here. 

“When I came off masterchef, I was met with so much support from the community.” 

The event also showcased the Westwood brassband and Oldham’s “young talent” with a performance by the Oldham Theatre Workshop. Youngsters from the theatre troupe gave a moving rendition of songs from the piece ‘Strike’, which they performed at the recent ‘Illuminate’ event in February. 

While the focus was on Oldham’s past, from iconic historical figures like suffragette Annie Kenney to its revolutionising contributions to spinning, IVF research and more recently, experimentation with hydrogen power, the evening also took a look at Oldham’s future. 

Chief executive Harry Catherall said: “We are on the cusp of something very special here in Oldham. It’s our job as a council to create the opportunities and up to the people of Oldham to grab them.” 

He praised Arooj Shah’s leadership as “ambitious” and “creative”, commending the regeneration projects underway in the town centre. 

Meanwhile Frank Rothwell suggested the current leader might soon be heading off to national government. 

He said: “We’ve got to look after Arooj because eventually she’s going to go to parliament. To have another strong voice for Oldham in the Commons, that would be fantastic.” 

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