COULD Bolton hold the secret to happiness?

Quite possibly. And it could be 'good humour' and 'leisure'.

Those were the top answers when the people of Bolton were asked to answer a survey four years ago.

The answers have now been analysed and compiled in a new book published on happiness based on the views of the people of Bolton.

Entitled The Changing Nature of Happiness: An In-Depth Study of a Town in the North West England 1938 -2016, edited by Sandie McHugh, it is based on research carried out by The Bolton News and analysed by academics at the University of Bolton.

The book was sparked by a social experiment carried out by The Bolton News and the University of Bolton to find out what makes people happy.

The first survey of its kind in the UK was carried out in Bolton in 1938 as part of the groundbreaking Mass Observation Project, with adverts in The Bolton News urging people to participate, and more than 75 years later, in 2014, the people of Bolton were again asked what makes them happy. More than 400 local people of all ages took part in the survey in a bid to discover the secret of happiness.

The research attracted national and international attention — with publishers approaching Ms McHugh.

Ms McHugh, a honorary research fellow, said: "We could not have done this without The Bolton News or the people of Bolton who took part. We would like those who contributed to attend the book launch which is free and open to the public."

She added: "Who would have thought from when we carried out the research, with The Bolton News running it on the front page, that it has resulted in a book.

"I presented the research at the The British Psychology Society Conference and from there it was national news. It is very difficult to be accepted into the conference."

Recently Ms McHugh travelled to Brazil to showcase the findings of what made the people of Bolton happy.

In 1938, the survey results showed security, knowledge and religion were the three most important aspects for happiness. By 2014, security was still there but good humour and leisure were in first and second places. Religion fell to 10th.

The book covers happiness today and in the past, leisure, enjoyment and perceptions of happiness — based on the people of Bolton. The book has some eminent endorsers with Professor Kevin Gournay CBE stating the book offers a "great antidote to the gloom and doom that seems to be around us" and Professor Samuel M.Y Ho adding: "Read this book — and learn to find happiness in your own life."

Ms McHugh said: "People in 1938 seemed to be more content, life was tough then and although I would not want to go back to those times we can learn from those times."

She added the book would appeal to those interested in Bolton.

The book launch will take place on Thursday, May 10, at The University of Bolton from 2.15pm to 6.30pm and people can come throughout those times. There will be talks throughout the day including by Ms McHugh on what makes the people of Bolton happy.