Thursday, 19 June 2014

Food and Drinks Awards Return

The Food and Drink Awards are upon us once again. Nominations are now open and I urge everyone to do so. Your support at this critical phase of the process is vital to the success of these awards.

The next time you’re picking up freshly made bread from the bakery, enjoying a coffee with the kids, a glass of wine with the girls or fine dining with family, remember to nominate that establishment. We’ve made it as easy as possible to nominate online and it literally takes seconds to do.

You can even nominate food and drink establishments up to 10 miles outside the boundary of Chesterfield in the Out of Town category. Dronfield, Bolsover, Barlow, Baslow, Alfreton, Wingerworth are all areas that fall within this radius and I know from personal experience that there are some excellent restaurants, pubs and cafes in these areas.

This year everyone can get involved with the nomination and shortlisting process as we’ve introduced a new Family Friendly category. Having had young children once myself, I know that not every restaurant is conducive to a family-friendly dining experience but we’re really keen to discover the ones that are, and who better to judge these but families? We’re on the look-out for two families to help us do this. If you’re a young family and want to get involved then please do get in touch.

These awards are all about discovering the very best that Chesterfield has to offer as well as raising the bar to further improve the town’s offering.

TV chef Ainsley Harriott, who last year hosted the awards said himself that they had created a new standard in food, and I wholeheartedly agree. Chesterfield has never had such a variety and wealth of places to eat. It is a pleasure to be able to dine out in the town. There is truly something to suit every taste.

Thanks, in part to the superb hosting skills of Ainsley Harriott, last year’s awards ceremony is still talked about. I am delighted therefore that he has agreed to host the awards this year. The awards aren’t until October so before then, I would say to every eatery hoping for a nomination…..Ready, Steady, Cook!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Community key to future town success

Many visitors to Chesterfield tell us that one of the key attributes of the town is its friendliness and sense of community, and the community spirit certainly came to the fore recently to ensure our very first Retail Awards are a success.

To our shock, delight and amazement more than 1,000 nominations have been received for nearly 250 retailers. This is a phenomenal result and I am delighted to say that the Destination Chesterfield team and I have had to put in many extra hours sorting through the nominations and shortlisting retailers for the awards.

What is abundantly clear from the Retail Awards nomination process is that there are very many loved shops and their owners and managers are as equally passionate about providing a superb retail experience. With passion like this, it is no wonder that Chesterfield’s town centre continues to thrive where others are failing.

We should not underestimate Chesterfield’s retail offering. For a small town we are punching above our weight and leading the way for not only towns but cities who are keen to learn from us and replicate our success.

One of our key strengths, I believe, is that we never rest on our laurels. We are constantly innovating and working out ways we can further improve and attract even more people to our fabulous town. 

Statistics may show that online retail is the future but we firmly believe it can operate alongside, and strengthen, our high street offering and bring Chesterfield to the attention of people even further afield. I know already that some retailers in town have customers in Canada, the Netherlands and Scotland thanks to their online presence.

Online retail is the focus of the first phase of business support which is being offered through our Incubation Street campaign. Thanks to funding from the Portas Pilot Town Team Funding and our own Chesterfield Champions we’re providing a helping hand to independent retailers to get online this year and spread the Chesterfield message even further.

The response to the Retail Awards and the regular courses we run to help businesses, delivers a level of practical, community and financial support that I have not encountered anywhere else. It this that really does prove that, together, we do make a positive difference to our town.