‘We’ll prove Richard Gere wrong’: High hopes as Stalybridge crowned Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture

Top bosses in Stalybridge have vowed to “prove Richard Gere wrong” after the area was given the Town of Culture status for 2022.

The Tameside town will hold the title for the next 12 months after it was chosen by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which is providing a £ 50,000 grant to develop a program of cultural events and activities celebrating Stalybridge’s unique heritage.

And in a ceremony to formally announce the town’s title at a busy Stalybridge Street Food Fest on Friday night, Coun Leanne Feeley, the executive member for Culture at Tameside Borough Council, spoke about some of the things that make the town an incredibly historic place.

READ MORE: Best things to explore in Stalybridge as it’s named Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture 2022

From the oldest brass band, to its beautiful location and links to suffragette history, Stalybridge has it all, but there’s at least one person who does not agree. The town’s use as a filming location for the film Yanks, about the relationships between American soldiers and the locals whilst the troops were stationed in England during the Second World War, was brought up.

Richard Gere, one of the stars of the film, was reportedly “less than impressed” with the town at the time, with a widely shared belief that he called it one of the worst he’d ever visited.

Stalybridge Street Fest food festival

Despite the fact this was quashed in 2016, when Gere said it was actually one of “the most beautiful villages I have ever been in” – it seems like Stalybridge still has a bone to pick with Gere, and desperately wants to prove him wrong once and for all.

After Coun Feeley’s heartfelt speech about all the reasons Stalybridge was great, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham took to the floor to congratulate the town, and also spoke about proving Gere wrong.

“When we come back here at the end of this I can just see a bunch of t-shirts saying ‘we proved Richard Gere wrong’,” said Mr Burnham. “He will not know a thing about Stalybridge at the end of this.”

Andy Burnham enjoys the wares at the Stalybridge Street Fest food festival

As the town came together to celebrate the much-loved Street Fest, which is held monthly in the town, and be entertained by members of the local dance school, the world’s oldest brass band, and the Global Grooves robots, Mr Burnham remembered the town’s old nickname as something to be proud of.

He added: “Genuinely I can not think of a more worthy recipient of this title. One obvious reason is that we know that you like a party – when I was growing up this town was not called Staly-vegas for no reason.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham joins other councilors at the Stalybridge Street Fest food festival

“You’ve got so much to offer and you could not have a better location, it’s so beautiful and I know there’s going to be amazing things happening here. It’s going to be the place to be. This year we’re celebrating as Greater Manchester comes back from the pandemic and celebrating this town with all the spotlight on it.

“This is the time to make real change, so much more will come from this and that’s what we intend to do. Lets just make it a really good year, a year to remember that we can all look back on as a really good memory .

“I love coming here, there’s so much to do and enjoy. Lets make it a massive success.”

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