THERE was a double celebration for the only cider maker in Bolton and Bury when its premises were officially opened.

Red Bank Cider, based on the border between the two towns in Bradley Fold since, was officially opened by deputy mayor of Bury Cllr Sharon Briggs and mayoress Shirley Rabbitt.

In addition to the ceremony at Bradley Fold Trading Estate, the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) regional representatives Mike Gilroy and Mike Robinson were on hand to present two prestigious awards to the firm.

The firm, launched by husband and wife Lee and Anita Thorne only 18 months ago, received their trophy after winning "Perry of the Festival" with their Crackin' Pear brew at the Manchester Cider and Perry Festival in June.

Red Bank also won the North UK Cider and Perrry Competition silver award for the same product.

"People love a local product and they really enjoy our cider and perry as you can really taste the fruit," said Mr Thorne.

"It's made in the traditional way - so it's like a good glass of wine.

"We are also building on the demand for natural fruit beverages and we are working on producing English fruit wines, including strawberry wine.

Mrs Thorne said: "It's been a rollercoaster. We are now in our second year and Red Bank has become a recognised brand for quality cider with more and more real ale and cider pubs and bars around Bolton, Bury and the surrounding towns.

"They are finding that our cider is preferred by their customers."

The opening event was augmented by a performance from internationally renowned guitarist Stu Clarke from Hindley.

Following the opening, customers can now buy cider and wines at the new premises in Radclfife Moor Road, between 4pm and 6pm on Fridays and on Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm.