Lately Greater Manchester and beyond have been hearing much about the launch of Billingtons Oldham and how it was a great loss for the people of Oldham and beyond, when Billington’s Dance Academy, held its last waltz before closing its doors for good in February 2016.
Originally Turner’s Dance Academy, it became Billington’s in 1934 and was eventually bought by former dance pupils, Dennis and Brenda Massey in 1970 .
The story behind the Billingtons rebirth is down to one person, who has made the impossible, possible by bringing a piece of social history back to life.
Around fourteen months ago I was speaking with my friend, Krzysztof Zemlik, who, apart from being my friend also owns Ascroft Medical, the dental surgery where I am a patient.
Krzysztof said to me, ‘”I have a new venture, I have bought a building!”
The rest as they say ‘is history’ as the building in question was Billingtons on Ascroft Street Oldham, now known as Billingtons Oldham.
So, who is Krzysztof Zemlik?
Like most entrepreneurs, Krzysztof Zemlik is self-effacing and prefers to stay in the background rather than being known as the face of an organisation. He has steadfastly worked to turn an old urban building back to a hub for the community, the business community and of course the community who are light on their feet and love nothing better than to dance.
If you were to have come across Krzysztof’s biography a couple of years ago it would have read …..
‘Krzysztof Zemlik is an energetic and determined healthcare management professional, with demonstrable evidence of achieving remarkable success at management and director level within complex organisations. He possesses the confidence and work ethic to thrive in a medical environment, achieving challenging aims and inspiring values of integrity, excellence, passion and teamwork.’ Now of course, he is also owner of Billingtons Oldham where his own original vision to nurture a building back to life, has been surpassed by his eye for detail and keenness to keep the spirit of Billingtons alive for the people of Oldham.
But where did it all start?
Well, in 2004, Krzysztof decided to leave his home town of Warsaw and study at Manchester Metropolitan University for a BA (Hons) in Business Administration with International Business. Following this, he further expanded his knowledge by taking the postgraduate Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
In 2012, he became a Business Development Manager for a London-based UK chain of CQC registered private medical practices, where he prepared and implemented policies and procedures for the practice to ensure compliance with the Health and Social Care Act. Alongside preparing the company’s financial and development reports, he was also responsible for conducting all professional development interviews with the practice’s medical and non-medical staff, and set yearly targets for his colleagues and other staff members. In 2015, the success of the business, and its business model, was reported on in both The Economist and the Daily Mail.
In 2015 Krzysztof and Dr Piotr Kieruzel opened Ascroft Medical Centre, in Ascroft Court as joint directors ;identifying a gap in the market for provision of affordable, high quality dental treatment for the Polish community. Not long after, their work was highlighted in a Parliamentary review. Accomplishing a professional dental practice, they expanded services into other areas of health and now provide a variety of specialisms in a number of areas of medical practice.
Soon, a second site was needed as the client base rose in its thousands and industry accolades rolled in.
In 2019 the second Ascroft Medical premises was opened, around the corner on Clegg Street. By this time the then Deputy Mayor of Oldham , Cllr Jennie Harrison came to hear of Ascroft Medical and attended and opened the new premises. As she subsequently became Mayor of Oldham the Pandemic had its grip on the Country and so when Oldham emerged from the clutches of Covid she stayed on as Mayor.
Towards the end of her tenure, she was one of the first people to take a step into Billingtons when it was just a building site. When Cllr Elaine Garry became Mayor she was equally supportive, often visiting to see progress and just before Christmas 2022 held her Charity afternoon tea dance , returning to formally open Billingtons just a few days later, both Cllr Harrison and former owner Brenda Massey were also in attendance at both events.
In my role as High Sheriff of Greater Manchester , I have been fortunate to have also attended many of the milestones of Billingtons Oldham and I have been honoured to see the building progress from a tired and sad urban building , back to a vibrant hub for all areas of the community. I have seen first-hand, that all are welcome and heard many stories of what Billingtons means to the people of Oldham.
Now in the first weeks of 2023 the demands for events to be held at Billingtons Oldham will no doubt keep Krzysztof and his team busy.
When he is not working, Krzysztof enjoys gardening and working out at the gym. His ideal holiday is further exploring Asia, however as the demand for Billingtons Oldham as an event space continues to grow rapidly, I don’t envisage Krzysztof will be anywhere but Oldham for the foreseeable future
Lorraine Worsley- Carter MBE DL
High Sheriff of Greater Manchester 2022-23