The Salford Star means an awful lot to me from a personal point of view. I have made friendships with people and met many different people who I would never have met in my normal day to day life. I've experienced lots of different things which I never had cast much thought to. The Star has helped me to expand as a person, improve my skills and gain some confidence.
Sitting in my dentist's waiting room in 2009 I came across a copy of the Star and, as flicked through it, I saw an advert asking for volunteers and thought 'What the hell'. I wrote a few test articles and they seemed to go down well. But things really took off when I was asked to photograph a Salford City FC game away at Mossley for the Star.
I had always enjoyed taking pictures and was soon attending as many games as I could, so much so that, in time, as well as taking pictures for the Star I took pictures for Salford City and edited their match-day programme for four seasons. Thanks to the Star I now play football every Monday with people I met at Salford City.
Whilst I no longer have anything to do with the club, I still take sports photos and (if I can be arrogant) that club's loss is someone else's gain, as I now work freelance for the Rugby Paper and take photos across the North West and Yorkshire as well as taking photos for Sale FC Rugby Club. It's nice to feel appreciated! I also hold a licence through the Salford Star to shoot Super League and have had work published by the Rugby League Express, the Salford Red Devils and even Salford Council.
As well as photography for the Salford Star, I have become better much better with my writing, more able to vary my style and more comfortable in how I write. This was really useful as it helped me get through my PhD looking into the experiences of men with anorexia. Being active with the Star in some way helped me to recover from my own illness.
I get frustrated when some people see the Star negatively, as its purpose is to help people, either through its stories or by giving opportunities for people to gain new skills.
Yes, we don't work like other media outlets; we tell the small person's story, we don't pander to big organisations who could keep us afloat with advertising; we don't turn the other cheek! We've always reported the factual truth; we've always fought for the people of this city. To continue do this we need help. We need volunteers. Helping out allows the Star to stay alive to help others.
How can people help the Star? Read our articles, comment on them online, speak up for us, contribute for us...There are many ways...
...Just don't let it die. You never know when you may need us...
Dr Gareth Lyons, chairman of Mary Burns Community Group, the parent organisation of the Salford Star.
A selection of Gareth's brilliant photographs are available for just £5 at the Salford Star pop-up shop on Salford Precinct (next to Lloyds Bank) until Sunday night 9th December.
Gareth is just one of dozens of volunteers who have helped create the Salford Star pop-up shop and exhibition at Salford Shopping City. Artists and community activists have built wall and window displays, tenants from the Pendleton blocks have turned super sales people, while others have made beautiful Salford Star bracelets and key rings that are selling like hot cakes.
Meanwhile, residents who we've never even met before are coming into the shop with valued items for the Salford Star mini-auction this Sunday. The response from our community has been phenomenal.
The Salford Star pop-up shop and exhibition is open 10am-5pm until Sunday 9th December in the unit on Hankinson Way next to Lloyds Bank.
Items include bracelets and key rings £2, a new range of Salford Star t-shirts £8, photo prints from £5-£10 – all items in the shop are for sale, including photos from the wall display.
On Sunday 9th December there will be a day of events at the shop, with live music, street poetry by Simon Williams, a children's performance art show with Sandra Bouguerch and a Salford Star auction conducted by Nigel Pivaro. Loads more details to follow...
The big Charles Taylor Auction of fine art, photos and memorabilia displayed in the shop last week will be held today at 12noon at the company's premises at 26 Missouri Avenue, Salford, M50 2NP (round the corner from Langworthy tram stop). Anyone interested in bidding can go in person to the actual auction, or bid online via the website http://www.charlestaylor.co.uk/current-catalogue.aspx The Salford Star items are lots 2000-2010
The auction will also be livestreamed to the Salford Star shop on the Precinct at noon today. Everyone welcome!
Main photo of Whit Lane by Gareth Lyons - available to buy at the Star shop