A cartoonist, a sportsman and a museum enthusiast tell us how Macclesfield
is at the centre of their working lives, and interests.

Great British Life: Marc and Jane Jackson at their Room for Comics in Macclesfield. (c) Kirsty ThompsonMarc and Jane Jackson at their Room for Comics in Macclesfield. (c) Kirsty Thompson

Marc Jackson

Cartoonist and co-owner, Room for Comics

About 12 years ago I came back to my childhood love of comics and realised my dream of being a cartoonist. My love of comics has always been with me, but I deviated slightly, partly because when I was at school nobody really knew how to push me in the right kind of direction. So, I ended up in the world of graphic design, which is where I met my now-wife, Jane, and in 2007 we started up a design partnership called Creative Heroes. We had our first baby Nancy, and then Florence three years later and our attentions were elsewhere but when I moved back to Macclesfield in 2012, my first professional comic sold. Just around the corner from my house was a little art gallery and when we got a new independent newspaper focused on the arts through the door I discovered the editor was a gentleman called Martin Regan, who was also the guy running the gallery. I asked him if he’d be into having a comic strip in the newspaper and he said yes. And what that did was build up the muscle of making comics regularly to a deadline. In those earlier days, I’d send things out to various publications and was used to being rejected but very early on I got a brand-new character into the Beano. I had a nine-strip run with a character called Lenny the Lettuce and that was a great starting point.

Gradually I started to get a bit of work locally and became the go-to guy for comics. I was getting more commissions and the comics work began to become more prominent. I also started doing workshops in schools and had a stall at the Treacle Market (Macclesfield’s monthly artisan market held on the first Sunday of the month). I was put into contact with a lady called Aileen McEvoy who was responsible for the Lakes International Comic Art, held in the Lake District. We met up for a coffee and that started up a great friendship. Aileen used to work for the Arts Council and in 2017 helped me to get a grant for a comic book; she was also involved with the annual Barnaby Festival. So, in 2016, we put on Macc-Pow. Macclesfield Comic Art Festival as part of the Barnaby (arts and cultural festival). It was incredibly well received and Macc-Pow! became a thing that happened every year.

After the Macclesfield Picturedrome (bar/restaurant venue) was developed and we saw how the town was being transformed, my wife said we should open a shop. Nic Lewis who deals with property showed me a place above Flour Water Salt and I thought it would be an amazing space for my workshops. We signed our lease in 2019 with the idea of moving into the studio in 2020. I probably don’t need to tell you why that didn’t happen. We finally opened Room for Comics with a clearer view of what we wanted to do and with encouragement from my dear friend Aileen who sadly died earlier this year. We launched the studio with a mini version of our festival called Macc-Pow. Mini and we have been able to attract people from all over the world into Macclesfield – people like Charlie Adlard who was behind the comic book The Walking Dead; he opened the studio for us. Initially, we had 12 children at the workshops but now on the first Saturday of every month we can easily get 30 children. We built up Room for Comics enough to stop doing the Treacle Market a year ago and now do drawing workshops on Treacle Market Sunday. The unique spin on that is you can bring your children to the studio and leave them for an hour and a half. They can do something fantastically creative while you look around the market.

Room for Comics, 9a Market Place, Macclesfield SK10 1EB


Great British Life: Hannah Williamson at Macclesfield Silk Museum where she is vice-chair. (c) Kirsty ThompsonHannah Williamson at Macclesfield Silk Museum where she is vice-chair. (c) Kirsty Thompson

Hannah Williamson

Vice-chair, Macclesfield Silk Museum

I’ve been in the role for three and a half years. Twenty-seven years ago I volunteered at the Silk Museum for two summers when I was a student. I wrote a little history of West Park for them, which turned into a small exhibition. Life moved on but after seven years away from Macclesfield I came back. I was just a regular visitor to the museum until I bumped into Emma Anderson, who used to work at Manchester Art Gallery, where I am the fine art curator. I said, ‘what are you doing in Macclesfield?’ and she said, ‘I’m a director of a museum here now.’ I said, ‘I love that museum,’ and as soon as I opened my mouth I think she thought, ‘right, I see a future trustee here'.

I was so proud when I was asked to join the trustees of the silk museum.

I have lived in Macclesfield for 20 years now. We wanted somewhere that would be near to my parents in Wilmslow, and Macclesfield was a good choice. I like the sense of purposefulness the architecture here gives me, as I’m a heritage person. I enjoy the mill-like architecture of Christ Church and the heritage centre, the mill workers' cottages and Paradise Mill.

At the moment the museum has an Egyptian collection in the same room as the silk heritage collections. It’s so unexpected and interesting. Marianne Brocklehurst of the Brocklehurst family who were silk mill owners, decided to explore Egypt at the end of the 19th century and brought back some interesting items – I do think she might have smuggled things out in her suitcase. The exhibition is cleverly interlinked.

The beating heart of the collection is at Paradise Mill, which is currently closed but will reopen this autumn after major restoration work. It holds the 'nationally designated' collection of jacquard looms – designated is museum jargon for 'really important'. It is the largest collection of silk jacquard handlooms in Europe, all in their original situation because they are bolted to the floor.

I’m a big fan of the Barnaby Festival too because of its arts element. They’ve had some really cracking stuff over the years. I am also part of Save Danes Moss, the campaign group set up to stop a housing development being built on a peat bog just outside Macclesfield. It’s a super-worthy cause and an absolutely apolitical no-brainer. People of all persuasions are behind keeping the site as an area of natural and scientific interest.

Macclesfield Silk Museum, Park Lane, Macclesfield SK11 6TJ



Great British Life: Lee Folkard of the Community Sports Trust, Macclesfield FC receiving the Pride of Macclesfield award from 2022/2023 town mayor Fiona Wilson. (c) Alexander Greensmith/Macclesfield Nub NewsLee Folkard of the Community Sports Trust, Macclesfield FC receiving the Pride of Macclesfield award from 2022/2023 town mayor Fiona Wilson. (c) Alexander Greensmith/Macclesfield Nub News

Lee Folkard

Head of the Community Sports Trust, Macclesfield FC

I was at Walsall FC when I was younger and played non-league football until I was about 20. It was panic stations as I knew I wanted to be a footballer but that wasn’t going to happen so it was, ‘what else can I do to still be involved in the sport I’d done since I was eight?’. Since moving north 20 years ago I have worked at various football clubs, starting at Man City as community coach.

I took on the role at Macclesfield at the beginning of May 2021 and we were being allowed back out into certain places; it was a good time in a way as we could start afresh and try new things.

It’s been 25 years since Macclesfield Town set up Football in the Community. We were one of many such schemes by professional football clubs; at that time they weren’t charities. Within seven or eight years the Football League, the Premier League and the National League all got together and made sure all of the businesses that were running separately were registered with the Charities Commission, as there had been a number of football clubs making quite a lot of money out of the football in the community schemes.

We are a separate business and that means we continued to trade when Macclesfield Town went into receivership and the new football club was reinstated. We are not allowed to take any money or financial gain from the football club, and vice versa.

The scheme I inherited two years ago was very basic. It was delivering football after school hours and while we had funding from the Premier League and Football League Trust at the time, we lost about £200,000 worth of money due to the football club starting back up again, but at the bottom of the pyramid.

This did give us a chance to put on a totally different, much bigger offering for the local community including educational programmes. We now have projects with Astra Zeneca and Adelphi Medical and work in both primary and secondary schools. We also have nine care homes we visit weekly, where we run exercise sessions. In the schools, we do PE, sports and after-schools clubs. I’d say 20-30 per cent is football and the rest is other sporting activity. We organise lacrosse, cricket, multi-sports – whatever the school needs, and what fits into their curriculum. We run disability football every Wednesday and we set up a walking football session nearly two years ago with two sessions weekly. As much as we link into the football club, take their name and support them on match day, the Community Sports Trust has opened up opportunities to go outside of the ground and deliver across the community. It has opened up our partner base as well.

We recently won the Pride of Macclesfield Award so all the work we have been doing over the past two years has now been recognised.