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Shakespeare North Playhouse rolls out the red carpet for the 2023 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Award winners

HUNDREDS of excited finalists flocked to the Region's latest cultural crown jewel to find out if they would be taking home a prized Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Award.

Ackley Bridge and Casualty star Sunetra Sarker took to the stage to host the glittering ceremony at the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot celebrating the creative talent and achievements of people in the City Region.

13 lucky winners were crowned including World in 1 City, which took the People's Choice Award for Outstanding Contribution to Culture voted for by the public, with nearly 4000 people placing a vote.

World In 1 City is a volunteer run football tournament using the universal language of the sport in a creative way. Communities represent their countries of origin showcasing the diversity of our City Region and celebrating ethnicity and identity.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "Culture plays such an important role in what makes our Region great. From community organisations and individual artists to Hollywood stars, we have so much to be proud of. A big well done to all of this year's winners. These awards recognise the imagination, inspiration, and innovation; and the immense value that the sector has contributed to our Region in the past 12 months and beyond. And where better to play host than the wonderful Shakespeare North Theatre, the latest jewel in our Region's cultural crown, made possible with £10.5m of Combined Authority funding. A massive congratulations to all of our winners; and an even bigger thank you to everybody nominated for your fantastic contributions to making our Region great!"

Other winners included Sonia Bassey MBE who received the Inspiration Award (Lifetime Achievement) for her contribution to race equality, community engagement, inclusivity and social justice through art and culture spanning nearly 40 years. Abdulwase Sufian was named Inspirational Young Person for his intergenerational digital project capturing Yemeni cultural heritage. And DefProc Engineering won the Environmental Award for H2Go, the 1st low-cost domestic hydrogen sensor detecting hydrogen leaks so people can safely embrace greener fuels.

Chair of the Cultural Partnership Sir Phil Redmond said:- "I hope we continue to celebrate how creativity contributes to the way we interact and support each other as we have at this year's awards. It makes life better and enables economic growth. The Culture and Creativity Awards are part of the City Region's long-term cultural strategy, they unearth, nurture, exhibit and promote the Region's creative energy and remind us that creativity is not always about searching for something new but can also tackle recurring issues or find new opportunities."

Host Sunetra Sarker said:- "It was a fantastic evening and I'm in awe of some of the winners. The breadth of their work and what they have achieved; some at such a young age; is admirable. I love coming home and seeing the amazing projects and meeting the talent emerging from the City and Region. There is so much ambition and originality; I am proud to come from a place where we champion our cultural creativity and I hope it continues to be celebrated for many years to come."

Liverpool born Sunetra is largely known for her acting career which spans over 30 years beginning in Brookside and continuing with her recent debut at the Royal Shakespeare Company. She is a regular face on Celebrity Gogglebox and is a panellist on Loose Women.

Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and The Visitor Economy for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Councillor Mike Wharton said:- "Congratulations to all of the winners of this year's awards. This is not just an awards ceremony, it's a way of acknowledging and celebrating the hard work and commitment people give to their art, whether that's on a stage, in a lab or on a football pitch. Every year I am bowled over by the new and innovative ways culture and creativity is used to support the communities which make up the 1.6 million people living in the Liverpool City Region."

The Culture and Creativity Awards were established as part of the Mayor's commitment to culture through his 1% for Culture initiative.

This year's event is sponsored by ACC Liverpool, Adaptable Recruitment, Davies Partnership, Intx, LCR Connect, Liverpool One, Novotel Liverpool Paddington Village and MTC.

Mayor hails progress at Headbolt Lane Station as opening approaches

LIVERPOOL City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, has hailed the progress so far on the £80m Headbolt Lane Station Scheme; as new the 1st of the new battery powered trains to serve the Station begins its final tests on the local network.

Mayor Rotheram visited the site of the new Station in Kirkby this week to mark 1 year since works began.

Work is well underway to construct the platforms for the Station alongside the ticket office and waiting area. A new bridge over the brook on the site has already been installed as well as 2 new rail bridges, while the doubling of the track between the existing Kirkby and new Headbolt Lane Stations also currently taking place.

Headbolt Lane will be the 2nd new Station opened by the Mayor since his election, a key part of his Merseyrail for All ambitions, which aims to deliver new Stations and expand the Merseyrail network across the Region.

Battery technology on board the Region's new £500m publicly owned trains could see services extended into to new areas of the City Region and beyond, including possible links to places such as:- Wrexham, Warrington and Runcorn.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "As a Kirkby native, I've heard talk about a new Station coming to Headbolt Lane for as long as I can remember. I'm really proud that our £80m investment has turned that dream into delivery. The new Station is another step on our journey towards my ambition of building a London style transport system for our Region. I want to make getting around as quick, cheap, clean and reliable as possible. Headbolt will be the 2nd Station I have opened in the Region and, while it was great to take a look at the site, and I can't wait to see local people on board our brand new publicly owned trains really bringing it to life."

The new Station is a key part of Mayor Rotheram's plans to deliver a London style transport system, which aims to make the Region's public transport quicker, cheaper, greener and more reliable.

The new Station plans include:-

   Step free access throughout the Station.

   A bus interchange.

   Cycle parking.

   Links to active travel networks.

   Passenger waiting facilities and toilets.

   300 park and ride spaces.

   Electric vehicle charging points.

Alongside this construction work, last month saw the arrival of the 1st of the new battery powered trains that will serve the Station, which is being built without the need to extend the:- "3rd rail" power source that serves the rest of the Merseyrail network. Testing of the unit to prepare for it entering service once the Station opens is progressing well.

Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley's Cabinet member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said:- "Headbolt Lane Station will improve transport options to a wider number of Kirkby residents, providing access to the new battery trains and all the fantastic facilities the new Station has to offer. The new Station will also improve access to Knowsley Business Park, which will help attract further investment into the area at such an exciting time for Knowsley."

Philippa Britton, Principal Programme Sponsor, at Network Rail said:- "It was great to be on site and see the progress that's been made to build the brand new Station, at Headbolt Lane. Residents will soon be able to benefit from improved rail connectivity in Liverpool and the Northwest. We welcome the investment in the rail network and we're delighted to be working with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and other stakeholders to deliver this project."

The full scheme includes the extension of the Merseyrail network beyond the existing Kirkby Station and will see Merseyrail services run into the new Station. Northern Services, from:- Wigan and Manchester, will also operate to and from the new 3 platform Station. It is due to open in later this year.

The scheme is being delivered by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in partnership with Knowsley Council, Network Rail, Merseyrail and Northern. Funding for the scheme has come from the Transforming Cities Fund.

It is also aligned to Knowsley Council's plans to improve transport access in the area for residents whilst also supporting workers and visitors to 1 of Europe's largest employment sites; Knowsley Business Park.

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