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Young boy lights up Oldham buildings with poppies

A young boy from Oldham's dream came true as he had the honour of lighting up Oldham Parish Church and the Old Town Hall with poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

Six-year-old Zac, who is autistic, pressed the button to light up the buildings and was joined for the special occasion on Monday evening (8 November) by Major Eddy Hardaker from the Royal British Legion and Council Leader Arooj Shah. 

Former Oldham Mayor Councillor Ginny Alexander was also present. 

She said: "In May, we did a story about a little boy called Zac. It began last year when his Aunt Ally Zemniak, my friend, put on Facebook how Zac was so excited when he saw poppies lighting up the Civic Centre, so I messaged her about building a model Civic Centre with her husband and so they did and put it in their conservatory.

"Due to the pandemic, myself and Major Hardaker could not attend to see this wonderful project. It wasn’t until May this year that we could go and view the model Civic Centre and visit Zac - we were so impressed." 

Cllr Alexander went on: "Since then, more exciting things have happened. David Adam Dewhirst messaged me in October saying his boss who is Aaron Smith, from the lighting company MSL, wanted to contact Zac as he was so touched by the story and wanted Zac to switch on the lights for the poppies this year. 

"Messages and phone calls were made to make a dream come true for a little boy whose face lit up every time he passed the Civic Centre shining bright with poppies.

"Also Ally asked if we could find a home for the model Civic Centre. I contacted Katie Bennett and Mike Flanagan from the Spindles Shopping Centre and they were so kind to offer the model a home in Spindles it is now sat in the unit that was Mango Bean.

"Thanks must also go out to Aaron and David who went to pick the model up from Ally’s house and delivered it to Spindles. They have also lit it up with poppies. How wonderful for all these people to come together to not just make a boy's dream come true but mine too.

"I can’t thank everyone enough for making this happen - a heartfelt story never to be forgotten." 

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