THIS week started very bittersweet. While we saw the reopening of large swathes of the economy, including outdoor hospitality and non-essential shops being allowed to open their doors to customers once again, as a nation we are also in a period of mourning following the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

We will all have our own memories and experiences and will no doubt remember not only his wit and sense of humour, but his unwavering support to not only the country but to The Queen. My deepest condolences go to Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal family at this very difficult time.

With the reopening of outdoor hospitality and shops we take another step back to normality and during the recent Easter recess I took the time to speak to several local shops and hospitality providers to hear their plans and concerns about reopening.

While our shopping and spending patterns have undoubtedly changed during the lockdown periods and heightened restrictions last year, with this reopening we have the opportunity to shift that focus to support our local high streets and pubs as they reopen.

On the back of the success of my ‘Independent Shop Competition’ last year which was designed to get shoppers supporting our brilliant local retailers, this week I’ve launched by ‘Best Local Pub Competition’. Set up to coincide with the reopening of the hospitality sector, I am asking pub goers and drinkers from across Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich to nominate their favourite pub. The purpose of the competition is to highlight not only the importance of the sector to our economy, but also show what the ‘local’ means to us as the heart and hub of our community.

Nominations will close on April 23, with residents then being asked to vote for an overall winner and a runner up from each of Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich.

I hope to visit as many local pubs as I can in the coming weeks to show my support by raising a glass for all their hard work and sacrifices during the pandemic and would urge you all to do the same.

Whilst we do head back to the pub for that long overdue pint with friends, please do remember to drink responsibly and considerately so that we can all enjoy the experience in a Covid safe manner. Doing so will ensure that pubs can re-open fully on May 17 enabling us to venture back into the pub and not just the beer garden.