FOOTBALL FUNDRAISER… Some of football’s finest, including Michael Owen, will assemble at Chester FC on Thursday 15 February for a fundraising game to help the struggling club stay afloat. The club, which needs £50,000 to survive and is four points adrift in the Conference relegation zone at the time of writing [Editors’ note: this section has been written by Place’s resident Altrincham FC fan], will host a Chester Select XI vs an All-Star Team featuring sports presenter Colin Murray. Alongside Owen, other footballers due to play include Keith Gillespie, Maik Taylor, Perry Groves, Danny Higginbotham, Trevor Sinclair, and Chris Iwelumo. The Chester Select side will be managed by former Chester [and Altrincham] boss Neil Young. The game kicks off at the Deva Stadium at 19:45 and tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for U16s.
GRAPE EXPECTATIONS… Bolton has announced it will be holding its first wine festival this year, between 6 and 7 April. Hosted in the town’s recently refurbished Market Place Vaults, the event will include masterclasses, tasting, and wines available from all over the world. There are also slightly more left-field offerings such as a “guess the grape station”, where blindfolded guests can win a prize by guessing what type of grape they’re tasting. And if you’re not a wine buff, never fear: Market Place said the event was for everyone, “from individuals newly introduced to the drink, to those with more refined palates”. Advance tickets, priced at £10, can be purchased here, and there will be tickets on the door for £12.
HORSEPOWER… A journalist for BBC’s North West Tonight will become the first person in the UK to be given a guide horse. Mohammed Salim Patel, 23, suffers from a degenerative condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa and has lost most of his sight, and coupled with a fear of dogs, has found it difficult to find any guide animal to help him. But now, he will have American miniature horse Digby as his guide to help him around the streets of Blackburn, Patel’s home town. Digby, who is toilet trained and wears nappies, will be trained for two years by KL Pony Therapy, before taking up his role as the UK’s first guide horse. Appearing on North West Tonight, Patel said: “If Digby’s successful then it’s a case of, if he’s happy, I just put his harness on and off I go and do what I want to do.”
FRANKLY BRILLIANT… A documentary celebrating the life of Timperley resident and comedian Chris Sievey, and his papier-mâché-headed alter-ego Frank Sidebottom, is to receive its world premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film, Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story, explores the life of the comedian who rose to fame as Sidebottom in the 1980s and 1990s. Directed by Steve Sullivan, the film is planned for wider release in the UK following its premiere, and has contributions Ross Noble, John Thomson, and Johnny Vegas among others. Sievey, who passed away in 2010, is also honoured with a statue in Timperley, unveiled in 2013.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR… If you’re looking for a romantic evening this Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck: Prescot’s first micropub is due to open on 14 February. The Bard will open its doors after a two-month conversion of an empty unit at 57 High Street, and will be serving real ales from across the country, alongside craft beers, wine, spirits and soft drinks. No mainstream lager or alcopops will be served, and there will be no TV, gaming machines, or amplified music at the venue, which will be run by husband and wife team John and Julie Marsden. There are also plans afoot to bring a Shakespeare-inspired beer festival to the town, which will also see the construction of the Shakespeare North Playhouse begin in the New Year.