How Hoole won its second Great British High Street Award
PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 08:03 28 February 2017
Hoole scooped a major prize in the Great British High Street Awards. Janet Reeder finds out why
Hoole, the thriving neighbourhood in Chester has been named best local centre in the Great British High Street Awards beating off 900 hopefuls.
The award follows the Best Newcomer accolade, which they picked up the previous year and then came roaring back with even more passion, innovation and community spirit according to the judges. They said that: ‘By working with both independents and national retailers and their commitment to deliver some amazing events and growing the local economy, the team has put Hoole on the map’.
The Great British High Street initiative was created to support those working to revive, adapt and diversify high streets. Not for profit and government funded, it aims to provide resources for high street regeneration and celebrate innovative work going on in high streets across Britain.
There is little doubt the win is a tremendous achievement. Hoole may be just a few minutes’ away from the centre of Chester yet the vibe is totally different from that of the city. With its mix of bars, shops and restaurants, traditional inhabitants and businesses this is a suburb carving out a future as a destination in its own right.
Notting Hoole, a group of local residents and business owners, was founded in 2014 by Chair Sue Mason to help raise money for the Hoole community centre, run by Paula Norris, and for the Hoole Christmas lights. Notting Hoole was devised to raise funds through the organisation of community events, which also has the benefit of bringing the community together.
Treasurer of Notting Hoole, Samantha Jackson said: ‘Last year we entered the award for local centre and the judges were so impressed by us they created a category of Best Newcomer. We won £5,000 which we spent on various projects and were determined we would go back and compete for the same category, which we did.
‘One of the things we felt was that some of the entrants had created a brand to market themselves, so we created the Hoole Life brand and we got a really good graphic designer who helped to create a logo to include on all our posters for all our events.
‘We also staged two street festivals as well as a film night called ‘Hooloween’, all free to attend events that have been brilliant. Then Chris Matheson our MP asked us to mentor a group in Handbridge so we met them and gave them the benefit of our expertise.
‘We took over the Christmas lights and also set up a charity football tournament. If we ask the community to help us they do. We don’t artificially create something that is not already there, we know that something like a street festival will be a big success because everyone here likes a good party and is there to support things like that.
‘We always say (Hoole) is not a place, it’s a way of life. People says they love the atmosphere and that they feel immediately at home in Hoole.’
Chester MP Chris Matheson reveals: ‘When Sam, Sue and Linda started their Hoole Life/Notting Hoole project, not everyone was on board. It took a while for other businesses to recognise the benefit but now people come from all over the city to join the street festivals and parties and the Hoole Christmas lights switch on is the biggest in Chester.
‘Hoole is a great place to live, close to the city centre but with its own villagey feel; a real mix of people but a strong sense of community, and some fantastic independent local shops where you really can get to know the shopkeepers - and they get to know you.’