THE VERY best of the district will be celebrated at the annual Pride of Stratford Awards next month.
The fourth annual awards, organised by Touch FM, will be presented during a glittering evening at the Holiday Inn on Friday February 13. They will recognise everything from business success to carers and citizens who help make the district a better place.
The judging panel includes Touch FM Chief Executive Steve Orchard, Stratford District Council Chairman Simon Jackson, Phil Peak from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Darren Gwynne of Barclays Corporate Banking.
The nominations are:
Arts Organisation of the Year
* The Phoenix Players – the amateur drama group has been performing in Stratford since 1945. The group has members ranging in age from five to 85 and currently has a membership of around 40. The group performs three shows a year covering and is run by a committee of elected members who work on a voluntary basis.
* Stratford Picturehouse – although primarily a cinema it also offers screen arts – ballet, opera, theatre etc – live music and special events every Monday. In addition it hosts special screenings for kids, toddlers, new parents and people on the autism spectrum.
* Stratford ArtsHouse – launched in April 2014 following a £1.8 million redevelopment of the former Civic Hall.
Shows include classical concerts, musicals, literary events, family theatre, comedy events, Christmas productions and more.
Tourism Initiative of the Year
* Comedy Hullabaloo – launched in 2013, the four-day stand-up comedy event features some 25 shows, with daytime shows for children together with comedy club style shows and big name performers. The festival returns for the third year in May.
* Stratford Town Walk – was established in the summer of 2002 by John and Helen Hogg who identified a gap in the market for professionally guided town walks. It provides daily guided walks and ghost tours 365 days.
* Tudor World – is an independent non-funded museum set within an historic building in the centre of Stratford. Since taking over in 2007, Janet and John Ford have renovated the museum, developed a schools programme and commissioned a documentary relating the rich history of the building.
Business Person of the Year
* Claire Wright – founded Gemini in 1985, and has grown and developed the business into a leading Stratford independent with two town centre shops – Gemini and Gemini Shoes – as well as a thriving online business.
Claire employs 27 members of staff and has lived in Stratford all her life.
* Jonathan Duncan – set up Avon Services Plumbing and Heating Ltd which began with small domestic work. The company now employs nine members of staff. Jon has also set up a second business called Avon Renewables Ltd which sits alongside Avon Services Ltd
* Sharon Stephens – heads Sona Publishing and the main core of the business is The Stratford upon Avon Directory, an A5 magazine delivered free to homes every month. In addition, Sharon created The Essential Guide which is an A5 quarterly visitor’s guide which features local businesses.
Customer Care Award
* Alveston Manor – is owned by the MacDonald Hotel Group which is the largest privately owned hotel group in the country. It is a four star hotel with 113 rooms and guests can also enjoy leisure facilities which includes a pool, sauna, steam room, gym and beauty rooms.
* Everett Mead – Everett Mead is Stratford’s only independent Insurance Brokerage, offering insurance services for Warwickshire and the wider area.
* The Moat House – opened its doors in January 2014 and over the year has hosted a number of private events at the 12th century farmhouse in the village of Dorsington.
* The One Elm – is the second gastro pub opened in Warwickshire by the award-winning pub company Peach.
Team of the Year
* Enable – build software using Microsoft technologies, focusing on the design, development, ongoing support and hosting of business applications. These are delivered on the web and also as mobile and tablet applications.
* Pink Connect – is a national business communications company, offering business, office and telecoms solutions for businesses across the UK.
* RSC Costume Department – is one of the largest production costume departments in the UK and responsible for creating, maintaining and providing all costumes and wigs for all RSC productions.
* Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Learning & Participation Team – in 2014 the team delivered educational programmes for 33,000 people of all ages. They also launched its first national outreach campaign ‘Shakespeare Week’ which aims to give every primary school child in the UK a great first encounter with Shakespeare.
Hospitality Business of the Year
Avonlea Guest House – located on Shipston Road in Stratford it has eight bedrooms. A large proportion of the business comes from tourists and many return guests.
* Royal Shakespeare Company Catering – the team of 80 caters within the entire RST building, including the rooftop restaurant on the third floor and serves up to 162 diners.
* Welcombe Hotel Spa and Golf Club – set within a private estate of 157 acres, the four star hotel offers a championship 18 hole golf course and spa.
Town Centre Outlet of the Year
* The Dirty Duck – is a long established pub business It regularly cater for theatre-goers, tourists and townspeople. The pub has been very successful over the years and won the regional finals of the Great British Pub Awards.
* Gemini – sells contemporary British, Scandinavian and European clothing, shoes accessories, gifts and home décor. Since opening it has expanded to having three units in Wood Street and continues to grow via its website.
* Gorgeous Obsession Boutique Salon – is a make-up, hair and nails boutique salon in The Minories in Stratford. The owner has developed her own make-up and cosmetic range Gorgeous Tempest which matches leading brands in quality and ease of use.
Small Business of the Year
* The Cycle Studio Ltd – is a Stratford-based cycle retailer offering customers a wide selection of brands and expert advice. In April 2014 The Cycle Studio invested in a state of the art, computer controlled bike fitting system, one of only four in the UK.
* ShoeMed Ltd – opened in 2011 as a destination shoe shop for people with problem feet. They help people with wide feet, foot pain, foot deformities, diabetes, arthritis and many other health conditions to find shoes.
* Simplify IT Solutions Ltd – is a Stratford-based company in its third year of trading. The ethos across the company is about challenging conventional thinking and bringing new ideas and initiatives forward.
Business of the Year
* CCL Group Ltd – was founded in 1986 as an independent IT consultancy, providing expert advice.
* Johnsons Coach & Bus Travel – established for over 105 years, Johnsons Coach and Bus Travel is a family business specialising in escorted holidays, ay trips, coach hire, and local bus services.
* Showplace Ltd – was founded in 1987 and focus on designing, building and delivering experiential marketing solutions. The firm employ 18 full time members of staff.
Young Achiever of the Year
Bill Jones – is 14 and lives in Tiddington. At 13 he started a project to make a film about the experiences of local D-Day veterans leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. The film took him over a year to produce. He worked hard researching and meeting people to help with the film. He interviewed local veterans and he worked closely with musicians, photographers and film makers to gain knowledge on how to put together a film. The end result was a 43 minute documentary honouring the veterans.
Navitha Jathin – is a Year 9 student at Stratford School. She has worked tirelessly for Guide Dogs and has been a mainstay of the Shakespeare Pups appeal. Navitha got the school involved in the appeal and has been the driving force in raising funds on behalf of the school, and the school now has ‘Hector’ the guide dog puppy. Navitha has even forgone Christmas and birthday presents as well doing other activities to raise money to fun her own guide dog puppy ‘Hamlet’.
Rory Dwyer – is a Sixth Form student at Stratford School committed to his athletics career. Last October Rory won the U17 Performance Athlete of the Year award for his performance and development success in high jump and hurdles. At the age of 16, Rory has already represented Great Britain at the World Juniors in the USA and is ranked fifth in the world, second in the European youth rankings and number one U17 high jumper and hurdler in the UK. He has also recently secured a sponsorship deal with Adidas.
Educator of the Year
* Gaye Arnold – joined the old Stratford Boys School straight from university in 1973 teaching English, and continued through the formation of Stratford High School until 2006 when she retired after 33 years following a spell of ill health. Gaye believed in teaching the student not the subject, and the results spoke for themselves. She played a major part in creating citizens of Stratford to be proud of, some of who have gone on to gain world recognition.
* Peter Butler – last year retired from The Willows Primary School in Stratford after 41 years at the school. A consummate professional and much-loved, Peter influenced hundreds of pupils over the years. His retirement was celebrated in style with his very own victory tour of his town aboard a vintage Stagecoach bus and a special assembly in his honour.
* Welford-on-Avon Primary School and Nursery School – is a long established nursery class within Welford-on-Avon Primary School. The nursery class opened in 1975 and will celebrate 40 years of early year’s excellence in 2015. Ofsted rated this nursery “outstanding”.
Citizen of the Year
* Elizabeth Dixon – is an ex-police officer who had her world turned upside down when she was involved in a crash while on duty. The impact on her life was dramatic and it was necessary to adapt to a new way of life. Elizabeth is now the Disability Advisor for Stratford and works tirelessly, offering help and advice to local organisations, businesses, shops and attractions so they can meet the needs of all users. Elizabeth makes it her business to do everything she possibly can to raise awareness of all types of access problems and where possible, improve the situation for residents of the town and visitors alike.
* Jackie Horton – The Shakespeare’s Puppies Appeal was the brainchild of Jackie, a volunteer puppy walker for Guide Dogs who lives in Stratford. The appeal was launched in 2013 to raise money to name as many guide dog puppies as possible after Shakespeare characters. Schools, businesses and the general public were challenged to raise money to name their very own Shakespeare puppy. To date almost £40,000 has been raised with four puppies currently being puppy walked in the Stratford area. The cost of a guide dog from birth to retirement is £55,000 and having a guide dog allows visually impaired people the ability to enjoy the same freedom of movement and independence as everyone else.
* Maureen Beckett – since arriving in Stratford 27 years ago from Yorkshire with husband Keith and family, Maureen has worked tirelessly for the benefit of fellow Stratfodians over the years. Being a former mayor and district councillor for many years has given Maureen an understanding of the many needs within the community and she has led the way with many local projects including the refurbishment of Wesley Hall Methodist Church, Stratford in Bloom, Talking Newspaper, as well as organising events for the local community including Songs of Praise on the Recreation Ground.
* Pauline Bayliss – has worked at the Charlecote Pheasant Hotel for over 20 years as a breakfast waitress. She lives locally with her husband and has three grown up children who have left home and started their own families. From
1992 until 2002, Pauline fostered 37 children, ranging in age from new-borns to 11, all coming from challenging backgrounds. Pauline has cared for and nurtured each and every one of these children, offering them love, guidance and reassurance.
Carer of the Year
* Katie Berry – works for Mencap Pathway, supporting adults with learning disabilities. Kate’s passion is to provide yearly events such as day trips and Christmas dinners to allow everyone to come together and enjoy themselves. She has organised these events for three years and has twice been nominated at work for going the extra mile.
* Veronica Hurford – was nominated by a person she helped over a period of time – visiting them after they left hospital, cleaning their home and making meals, while also caring for her elderly father and her own family.
Stratford’s Pride Award
* Annie Ashworth – is an established author who has lived, worked and raised a family in Stratford. Annie, together with a friend initiated the Stratford Literature Festival in 2008. The two week festival brings together authors, including many familiar faces such as Dan Snow, Michael Palin and Graham Norton.
* Coun Chris Wall – has been involved with many local causes and started charitable campaigns. They include The SunFlowers campaign where residents grew and sold sunflowers with money raised going to various charities. Chris was also responsible for The Purple Poppy campaign sponsored for Animal Aid which raises and sends money to help animals injured in war. He also single handily arranged for the veterans to receive their Commemorative Medals in Stratford from the French Consulate as they could not make it to France.
* Maureen Beckett – as Citizen of the Year nomination.
* Orchestra of the Swan – founded in 1995, under the inspiring and enthusiastic guidance of its Artistic Director David Curtis, the orchestra’s reputation continues to grow both nationally and internationally, making it a fine ambassador for the town. While the name Orchestra of the Swan is known around the globe, the orchestra continues to involve itself for the benefit of the local community.