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Words: Glynis Fox
Photography: Mick Fox
Featured in the February 2015 issue

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A South Lincolnshire market town is out to impress and attract more shoppers and visitors during 2015 – with the help of a recent arrival.

Spalding received an early Christmas present with the appointment of its first town centre manager for at least a decade and, although Dennis Hannant is only a couple of months into the job, he is already taking steps to make a real difference.

The ex-Army major, who has also worked in civvy street, was latterly based with the Reserve Army (formerly the Territorial Army) in Grantham. As a former member of the Londonthorpe & Harrowby Without Parish Council, he is also well used to being involved in the community and introduced an award scheme (called the Tom Childs’ Memorial Award) which aims to reward people who have given their free time to helping people in their community.

Dennis, who was awarded the MBE last year, is a former member of the Grantham Choral Society and is passionate about all styles of singing. He has recently performed before royalty and has organised and performed in numerous public and fundraising events.

He was appointed Spalding town centre manager by Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry and his three-year post is funded by Section 106 development cash and Chamber finance.

Dennis’s first job has been to pull together a business plan, highlighting what he aims to achieve over the coming months. He was just about to submit this to the Town Centre Management Board when we went to press.

“I was delighted to get this job and I am keen to help organise and support a number of activities designed to enhance people’s shopping experience and play my part in making Spalding a great place in which to live, work and invest,” said Dennis.

“The most important thing is to increase footfall within the town centre, so that more people are encouraged to explore the wide variety of shops we have and support them.

“I also want to raise the town’s profile so that more potential visitors say ‘Let’s go to Spalding, we’ve heard that it’s a very good place.’”

Dennis has already been out and about meeting the owners and managers running all sorts of businesses, particularly those in the independent sector, as well as members of the Eastern European business community.

“All retailers are busy concentrating on running their businesses and they want someone working in the background organising events and initiatives that will help them to attract more shoppers,” he said.

“Events are very important when it comes to boosting a town’s footfall and I am keen to support those which are already well-established, as well as helping people to organise new events or looking to introduce new initiatives.

“Community organisations have a big role to play when it comes to putting on events, as this raises the profile of the organisation, gives them the opportunity to raise funds and that in turn allows them to show their families, friends and relations that Spalding has something to offer people of all ages.”

Spalding has a very busy calendar of events planned for 2015, starting off with the 15th Annual South Holland Open Arts Exhibition, which is organised by South Holland District Council and staged in the town’s South Holland Centre.

Dennis is also thinking about a Youth Festival and St George’s Day Parade, taking place from 23rd to 26th April, and the Spring Fair and People’s Parade on 24th May. He would particularly like to see representatives of the town’s ethnic communities taking part in the latter parade.

Spalding in Bloom judging week comes around 13th–19th July and 18th July will see the crowdpulling Bakkavor Party in the Park Concert with the Bakkavor Families’ Day taking place the next day. Both are staged at the Springfields Events and Conference Centre. Dennis has been involved with Party in the Park events in the past.

Spalding’s nine-day Festival of Food, which runs from 29th August to 6th September, promises to be a major highlight of the year.

“We are starting to look at creating a number of smaller events leading up to the festival, which will be the main attraction. We want to celebrate local foods because approximately 25 to 30 per cent of the UK’s food passes through this area and we see ourselves as the ‘Larder of the UK’. Bakkavor has already agreed to part sponsor the Festival,” said Dennis.

Spalding & District Chamber of Commerce president, Phil Scarlett, is equally keen to see the town grow in prominence and pull in more visitors. Ensuring this destination remains attractive and welcoming is key to those aspirations.

He said: “Last year Spalding in Bloom made an extra special effort, spearheaded by Jan Whitbourn from Tulip Radio, who stepped up and organised volunteers to tidy up the town, organised the judges’ route and generally chased us along.

“Many Spalding businesses sponsored hanging baskets and brightened the town centre. All the hard work paid off with a Gold Award. The challenge for us now is to retain it this time around.

“We are also looking at ways in which we can attract more of the 2.6 million customers who visit the Springfields shopping compex on the outskirts of Spalding to also spend time in the town centre,” he added.

SPALDING INDEPENDENTS
Independent businesses play a key role in maintaining the uniqueness and vibrancy of Lincolnshire’s market towns and Spalding has plenty which are well worth discovering.

Whether you are looking for stylish menswear, a smart pair of shoes, the latest book or a special gift, you are likely to find it here. You should also expect to experience the very best in customer service.

Spalding’s privately run stores include The Man’s Shop, Bookmark, Taylors Coffee House and the award-winning county family butcher Simpsons.

Andrew Inkley and his wife Heather are the proud owners of The Man’s Shop in The Crescent, which was started by Andrew’s late father Jim in 1960.

Traditional in appearance, this double-fronted outlet is worth closer inspection. Once inside shoppers are likely to find themselves blown away with the variety and quality of clothing and accessories on offer.

Andrew said: “We are busy bringing in the spring ranges and we pride ourselves on continuing to offer shoppers something different from the rest of the High Street.”

The shop’s ranges typically include brands such as Meyer trousers, Fynch-Hatton knitwear and Olymp shirts. Over the past couple of years, The Man’s Shop has also diversified into wedding hire.

“Our customers come from Lincoln, Peterborough, Cambridge, Nottingham and Boston, as well as Spalding, and our decision to diversify has attracted more trade,” said Andrew.

Andrew is among town traders who have warmly welcomed the appointment of town centre manager Dennis Hannant.

“We have been without a town manager for some time and I feel that Mr Hannant’s arrival is a positive thing for Spalding,” added Andrew.

Bookmark – which is owned by Christine Hanson – is also found in The Crescent and it is another of the town’s popular independents.

Like Andrew, Christine aims to offer shoppers goods which are not found everywhere else on the High Street. In addition to offering a wide range of books, the business also sells greetings cards and gifts, and has its own cafe. Bookmark also runs a book club and regularly hosts visits by authors.

Well-known local author Margaret Dickinson is due to visit the shop on 10th March and bestselling historian and broadcaster Marc Morris, whose new book King John is being published to coincide with the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta, will be at Bookmark on 17th March.

Wendy Taylor and her husband James are the brains behind Taylors Coffee House in Sheep Market. They opened just over three years ago.

“I had wanted to do this since 1992. I thought Spalding has a lot of independent businesses and I felt there was a lot of potential for us, and so far it is going very very well,” said Wendy.

Wendy and James like to see themselves as offering a bit of sanctuary for people who want to take time out and relax with friends, but their coffee house also attracts business people who want to meet for a quick catch-up away from the office.

Wendy and James recently added something extra to their menu. In November, they hosted a Sunday afternoon Jazz Session, when guests were entertained by The Mark Wilkinson Quartet. They hope to offer a similar, ticketed event in February.

Wendy added that it is great that Spalding now has its own town centre manager.

“Dennis Hannant is very personable and I think he will be good for Spalding,” she said.

PRIDE IN SPALDING
An initiative launched late last year by South Holland District Council is helping to spruce up Spalding.

The Pride in Spalding campaign, which aims to tackle eyesores in the town and across the district, has already made its mark in cleaning up a former pub site and land where rubbish was dumped. Now more places are being targeted for action.

The scheme – which includes additional cleaning of the town centre, improvements being carried out by the Community Payback Service, the repainting of equipment at eighteen play areas and the installation of new signage and CCTV equipment – got underway in November.

The old Bull and Monkie pub site was the first project to be tackled after its owners failed to respond to a notice ordering them to tidy up the site.

Action was taken to remove weeds and rubbish from the area, then graffiti was steam-cleaned from the building’s walls and permanent fencing erected around it. Councillors said the owners would be billed for the work.

Since then more than forty bags of rubbish have been cleared from a notorious litter hotspot in the town. A cleaning hit squad set to work and removed bottles, cans and plastic bags, which had been piled up next to the Green Lane footbridge.

Now further sites have been pinpointed for attention and the old Red Cow Hotel in Donington is top of the list.

SIMPSONS BUTCHERS
G Simpson is Spalding’s newest butcher’s shop. It was a great way to head into 2015, after Gary Simpson not only opened his fifth shop in Spalding last October but he was also was announced as Butcher of the Year at the bi-annual Poacher Food Competition the next month.

Gary is no stranger to receiving accolades; his Heckington shop won the Midlands and East of England Shop of the Year award 2013 and recognition from not only his customers but also his peers is a great source of pride for Gary.

Gary opened the first G Simpson Butchers when he was just twenty years old and the Hall Place, Spalding shop has now joined those in Cameron Street, Heckington, Four Seasons Garden Centre, Sleaford, Nettleham Road Shopping Centre, Lincoln and Casterton Road, Stamford.

Gary’s philosophy has always been to take the best raw materials he can source to make the best products. With full traceability across all products, G Simpson are offering customers exceptional quality while still retaining great value for money.

There is a wide range of fresh, locally sourced meats and game, a great choice of BBQ products as well as homemade sausages and pies.

Customers calling in are invited to try tasty bitesize portions of some products from the counter top and a loyalty card scheme has proved very popular with offers and a Christmas savings club.

An online shop is next in Gary’s plans to give people beyond the county a chance to try G Simpson’s superb quality and service.

OSJCT – SOUTHFIELD HOUSE, LINCS
The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) is a not for profit charitable provider for older people in the UK. With over seventy Care Centres around Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire the trust is committed to delivering the highest standards of care to residents, whilst enabling people to lead as independent a life as possible.

Surrounded by beautiful gardens, Southfield House in Spalding is an established home providing dementia, residential and respite care around the clock. The home offers a friendly welcome and provides a variety of facilities that enhance the lives of people who use the service; the OSJCT provides individualised care that promotes dignity, respect and choice to all.

A full personalised activity programme is offered, which is developed by residents for their enjoyment. If you would like to find out more please visit www.osjct.co.uk for further information.

THE CLASSIC FAMILY BUSINESS
Country Workshops is the home of the 4 Wheel Drive Truck Centre, a small, family run business established in 1925. Its current management and business premises is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and 90 years of business.

The company specialises in the restoration, modification, design and manufacture of British 4x4 Classics, together with a stores which carries parts from 1948 to date, offering a retail trade export service as well as automotive, agricultural, industrial and marine specialist supply engineers.

Its workshop makes and recycles component parts which are no longer manufactured, also building the early MK1 Land Rover to the same very high standard as the special projects. Recent projects include Land Rover Classics, Land Rover campers and Range Rover Classics and Defenders, which have been completed to the last nut and bolt, virtually as new, all galvanised where possible – replacing, making, overhauling and fitting new component parts to a very high standard, uprating engines and transmissions, building up bodies with new parts and special coachwork.

Country Workshops proudly boasts that if Land Rover produced the part as standard, they may stock it, find it or make it. Tel/Fax: 01775 750223.

ERNEVALE HOUSE DENTISTRY
Ernevale House has been providing dental services to the people of Spalding and its surrounding villages for 100 years now; in this time it has developed an enviable reputation.

Following the retirement of Dr Theo Butler, the practice is now owned by Dr André Bergh, who brings with him a wealth of experience. 

“Our aim is to promote general health through oral health. At your regular check-up you will be screened for gum disease (a major cause of tooth loss) as well as for signs of oral cancer. 

“In addition to Family Dentistry, Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry, Sedation and Facial Aesthetics we provide Invisalign (clear braces), as well as other forms of Short-Term Orthodontics. Tooth whitening is also available.

“We will be providing extended opening hours, as well as providing services on a Saturday and hope to welcome you to the practice soon.” 

Contact Telephone Number: 01775 723191 www.spaldingdentist.co.uk

CREATIVE FLOORS
With over fifty years of experience in creating floors to suit your space, Geoff Holland set up Creative Floors twelve years ago, specialising in carpets, wood, luxury vinyl and tiles. Set out in at-home showrooms, customers can see laminate and engineered wood floors with names including Quickstep, and in his carpet showroom you will find brands such as Axminster and Brinton as well as other names.

Creative Floors goes one step further toward ensuring quality for their customers by employing their own in-house fitters. The company is also a retail member of the Carpet Foundation, which offers the following:
• Impartial professional advice
• Written terms of business
• Written quotations
• Deposit safeguards
• Free extended guarantees
• A free installation guarantee
• After sales procedures

Visit the showroom to see the extensive display of floors at 68 Wygate Road, Spalding PE11 1NT or call 01775 761098 to arrange a home visit.

EDGE OF TOWN
On the outskirts of the town, there are more than fifty stores at the Springfields Outlet Shopping complex, which also boasts an onsite hotel. This area is also home to the Festival Gardens and the Springfields Events and Conference Centre, which is owned by the Springfields Horticultural Society.

The Conference Centre features the Exhibition Hall, Marquee Suite – primarily used as a wedding venue – and the Patio Room.

Overall the range of facilities mean it can cater for everything from exhibitions to awards ceremonies and fundraising balls. Up to 700 people can be seated for a major function but centre staff are equally happy to handle enquiries for small, private parties.

The centre’s private gardens lead through to the Springfields Festival Gardens, which extend to fifteen acres.

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