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Manchester, in the aftermath of the terrible events on 22nd May, was a city united, voicing its sorrow, solidarity and hope in poetry and song. Many people were moved to share words of comfort and reflection, via social media, and this outpouring gave one local man an idea of how he could help to share these words and also raise money for people caught up in the tragedy, by putting a short collection of 22 of these poems together in a booklet.

The aim is to raise £2,200 for the official ‘Love Manchester’ Fund Copies of the booklet are available for £2.50, and donations can be made via the following link.

I have to confess to having a vested interest, as I am proud to say that one of my poems is included! It is one I wrote following the IRA bombing, in fact, but of course it sadly has a new resonance now.

Martin Gittins is a 64 year old retired former teacher, who has been involved with Folk music for 45 years – running the ‘Legendary Star Inn Folk Club in Salford for 23 years from 1973. He is still active in the  music scene and currently run a monthly session at The Eagle, Collier St, Salford and regular concerts under the ‘Roots in Manchester’ banner. He is also very active in Local History, including The Peterloo Memorial Campaign, as well as Cheetham and Crumpsall Heritage Society.

Martin read a poem by a friend (Bill Mitton) on Facebook on Tuesday, and then a few more by local writers started to emerge. As he publishes small volumes of local history works, he already had the format ready to produce a book and it seemed a simple process to collect the works and slot them into the format. He saw it as a way of both supporting the fund for the relatives and also recognising the work of the authors, many of whom have not written before.

From idea to production of the booklet took just an incredible 48 hours! Martin had the idea around 5pm on Wednesday, followed by a proposal and responses on Facebook, before dropping the files off with the printer at 5pm on Friday.

Please support this great project, if you can, and feel free to share the details far and wide.

Martin expressed his thanks to all the authors, who gave permission for their poems to be used, to C.P. Lee for writing such a fine Introduction to the work and, crucially, Maurice at Hurriprint Printers on Cheetham Hill Road, who is producing the booklets for next to nothing!

You can find out more about Martin on his website.

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