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Free town centre WiFi in Stratford

Feb 2016

Hundreds of Stratford's visitors and locals have been taking advantage of the new free WiFi service installed across the town centre.
Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID), with the support of Warwickshire County Council, has introduced the technology which will help shoppers and tourists become part of the ‘Digital High Street’.
BID manager Karen Wild explained that while engineers had been testing the service over the last few days and people have already started logging on and benefitting from the WiFi.
She said: “It just shows how important such things are to anyone out shopping or those coming to Stratford on business or to take in some of our historic sights.
“During testing we have had hundreds of people using the WiFi and we’ve yet to advertise the service – the window stickers are only now going out to businesses. The company supplying the system has told me that while people often log in at this early stage, the numbers we are seeing are unprecedented – they’ve been blown away.”
It is a simple one-off process to register for the WiFi and Stratforward will be able to message users about future events and send out promotions to those who are happy to receive such information. Businesses will also be able to access footfall figures which, among other things, will show how people move around the town.
Warwickshire county councillor Jenny Fradgley, whose Stratford South ward covers part of the area covered by the new free WiFi, said: “This is a huge year for Stratford and it will be interesting to look at the data and see what impact this year’s festivals have on footfall in the town.
“And while this new system is perfect for all our visitors and people doing business, it will also benefit all those living in our historic town – giving residents 21st Century facilities. Let’s not forget that they are the ones who take care of our shops and business all the year round.”
The free WiFi system was installed by Midlands-based Elephant Wifi who have worked with the county council on other projects across Warwickshire. There has also been support from Stratford District Council. 

L to R: Mida Zouhou, Karen Wild, Cllr Jenny Fradgley and local celeb snapper Mark Wilkinson!

WINNER - Tourism Initiative of the Year!

Feb 2016

We are the proud winners of the Tourism Initiative of the Year for the 2015 Stratford River Festival

Locals Strut for The Shakespeare Hospice!

Jan 2016

Locals Strut for The Shakespeare Hospice!

The generous and gorgeous of Stratford will be strutting down the catwalk at the Stratford Fashion Show on Wednesday 16th March! 

Locals will be the stars of this fashion extravaganza at the Arts House as they will model clothes from Stratford retailers in aid of The Shakespeare Hospice, organised by Stratforward. 

Tickets are £15 each including a glass of fizz and a Gorgeous Obsession goody bag worth over £30. (This is for just the first 250 tickets sold.) They are on sale now at many of the participating retailers and on line at the Arts House and Hospice.   
There will be a fantastic selection of clothes from 18 retailers including local gems such as VH & Co and New Idle, and national retailers such as Debenhams and M&S.   

•    Customers of Sew Me Something, a haven for sewers and crafters, will be putting a new spin on "models own". They will make clothes following Sew Me Something’s own patterns, and then model them!
•    Dramatic and dazzling make-up will be created by Gorgeous Obsession Boutique Salon who will introduce the Gorgeous Tempest cosmetic range with an AMAZING competition – “Find the Face of Stratford 2016”.  
•    Local brides will model their own stunning bridal gowns, from Stratford wedding boutique, Shakespeare in Love.

The Shakespeare Hospice and Cancer Research will dispel myths about charity retail by taking to the catwalk with stunning clothing donated to their stores. Guests will even have the opportunity to bag a bargain at a designer stall.  Which will it be the Gucci handbag or Missoni scarf?!  More is planned and will be released soon. 

Vikki Calcutt, Head of Income Generation at The Shakespeare Hospice said, “To have an opportunity to showcase the fashion of our town and raise money for our patients is a great one for us. We are really looking forward to the event and hope that people enjoy bidding on our Silent auction which will be filled with designer goodies like Prada handbags and Alexander McQueen purses. Thank you to Stratforward for pulling the evening together and to the businesses taking part for so generously donating their time to support us.”

Talented local makeup artists and hair stylists will come together to style the models in support of this great cause. Hair will be styled by both the highly respected Matthew Curtis, and the recently opened ENV Salon.  Make up by Looking Glass Aesthetics and Gorgeous Obsession.

People are encouraged to come early for shopping in the auditorium before the show.  It promises to be a night of fashion, fizz and fun!

Catwalk clothes supplied by: Aspire Style, Basler, BHS, Cancer Research, Debenhams, Domino, EWM, Gemini, Gorgeous Obsession, Jigsaw, M&S, New Idle, Sew Me Something, Shabby Chic Sister, Shakespeare in Love, The Shakespeare Hospice, VH & Co, Nuha (Designer shoes & handbags)

Tickets are on sale at in store at: Aspire Style, Cancer Research, Domino, Gemini, Gorgeous Obsession, New Idle, Sew Me Something, VH & Co, Nuha

And on line at: The Shakespeare Hospice and Stratford Arts House



Stratford’s Cracking Christmas Window Winners!

Dec 2015

Stratford’s Cracking Christmas Window Winners! 

It’s been a win-win situation all round this week as the Stratford’s Christmas Window competition winners were announced by Stratforward BID.  Stratford’s many eye catching window displays captivated the judges.  

“Businesses in town make a huge effort to decorate their windows at Christmas and it’s important their efforts are recognised.” said Ruth Wood, Stratforward Event Manager.  “Judging the Christmas window competition in Stratford was difficult particularly for the independent category as the standard was so high.  Outstanding windows included Greys Opticians on Church Street, The Salon on Henley Street, and the Hidden Garden in Shrieves Walk, last year’s winner, was once again very impressive.  Businesses pulled out all the stops with shopper stopping sparkle and style!” 

There were two categories - independents and national companies.  And the winners are: 

  • Independent Christmas Window Competition Winner Vinegar Hill, on Meer Street
  • National Christmas Window Competition Winner White Stuff, on Henley Street

“Vinegar Hill’s window is a charming and imaginative winter wonderland including everything from polar bears, snowmen and Santa to a hot air balloon.” said judge and Christmas lights organiser Dr Roy Lodge. “We are really chuffed to receive the award for best independent window display.  Our team put in a huge amount of planning and work to create our ‘North Pole’ window, so recognition of this is very rewarding.” commented Vinegar Hill Managing Director Richard Austin.

White Stuff on Henley Street won the National Retailer category with their fun mechanised and humous display featuring toy soldiers.  Both winners were presented with trophies by Stratforward, and a hamper from LSD Promotions on behalf of the Christmas market traders. Stratford’s businesses and Christmas lights have done us proud this year.


Stratford River Festival is a finalist at Pride of Stratford Awards!

Dec 2015

102 Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards Finalists oh yes we are!  

Many thanks to judges for selecting us for organising the Stratford River Festival for Stratford Tourism Initiative of the Year. 

We are down to the last three finalists in our category.

The 102 Touch FM Pride of Stratford  Awards 2016 takes place on Friday 5th February 2016 at the Holiday Inn, Bridge Foot, where the winners will be announced. 

‪#‎prideofstratford‬  ‪#‎102TouchFM‬




Stratford GeoTask Winners

Nov 2015

In the October GeoTask free prize draw it was great to see there were three national prize winners (including the top reward) all from Stratford upon Avon. They were

Helen – winning £25 House of Fraser gift card

Ian -  who won a £5 Costa Coffee gift card

Faye – who will receive a £2 PayPal cash voucher

Helen, Ian and Faye are all helping to ensure the success of our town by joining GeoTask.

Free Wifi for Stratford Town Centre

Oct 2015


Stratford’s businesses, shoppers and visitors will soon be able to use a new free WiFi service set to be installed across the town centre by the end of the year.

Stratforward Business Improvement District (BID) announced the plans at its Annual General Meeting on October 1st with the system set to go live in November. 

With support and a financial contribution from Warwickshire County Council, BID manager Karen Wild said it was an ideal opportunity to embrace the ‘Digital High Street’ and the enormous benefits which that would bring.

She said: “Such a scheme will bring obvious positives to the many thousands of people who visit our town whether it’s on business, as part of a leisure break or on a shopping trip.

But the service will also be a boost to shops and businesses in Stratford as it will provide information on those using the WiFi, allowing traders to see key statistics including how long people stay in town and how often they visit.

It will also allow Stratforward to message users about various upcoming events and promotions to keep visitors up to date with all the latest information. These will be scheduled to make sure users aren’t bombarded with information and they will have the option of opting out of the service.”

The county council is working with other partners across the county with the aim of facilitating WiFi roll out across Warwickshire’s main town centres.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth, said: “The introduction of free and fast public access WiFi is about equipping our town centres with the technology infrastructure for the future. 

The way we use our town centres is changing and we recognise that visitors to the town centre, be they shoppers, businesses or service users, want to browse the internet, use email and social media whilst they are going about their business.

By embracing this trend we can help to enhance the visitor experience to our town centres and hope that they will want to spend longer there, making our town centres more vibrant and economically viable.”

Karen Wild added that the scheme had also been given the backing of town centre businesses.

She said: “We carried out a survey of levy payers in August and 85 per cent of the replies said they would like the BID to invest in town-wide free access WiFi. It shows we are in tune with the needs of businesses in this digital age.”

The system will be installed by Midlands-based Elephant Wifi who have worked with the county council, Rugby Borough Council and Rugby First – the Business Improvement District – to enable free WiFi throughout Rugby town centre.

Stratford's Food Fest Thumbs Up

Sep 2015

TV chef James Martin gave a huge thumbs up to Stratford Town Centre Food Festival after foodies from all over the country converged on the town for the three-day extravaganza.
Up to 60,000 festival-goers enjoyed the free event, exploring taste and ale trails, discovering and sampling food from more than 70 stalls, listening to live bands and enjoying top demonstrations and workshops.
The celebratory chef packed out the Waterside Cookery Theatre with his three demonstrations on Sunday and said organisers may need to find a bigger venue to cope with the crowds.
He said: “It’s been so busy – the whole place is packed. I think you need some bigger streets because there are thousands and thousands of people here.  You need more space and a bigger tent!
“As a newbie to the festival it was a little bit like the first day at school. You don’t really know what you are gong to find but it is better than I expected by a long way. Everyone has a smile on their face and the weather’s great."
“As an event I can’t fault it. The organisation has been excellent and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Another TV chef, Simon Rimmer, was the star turn on Saturday and a number of local chefs also put on demonstrations over the three days, while hands-on workshops – including a number for children – were arranged around the town centre.

The event was sponsored by Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar and managing director John Lea admitted it had been a huge success. He said: “I think it is fantastic to put on such a great event for the residents and visitors in the heart of Stratford, and to be able to offer this with free admission."
“For us it was great to be involved and to meet the organising team, local dignitaries and celebrities – so many people have worked hard to bring this event to fruition."
“The highlight for us at Loxley's was to host the celebrity charity dinner with Simon Rimmer on Friday, raising money for the Shakespeare Hospice and the Stratford Hospital Cancer and Eye Appeal. We’re already looking forward to next year!”

Crowds up Bridge Street
Chef James Martin

3.  Busy Barry The Butcher 




Chefs ready for Food Festival showtime

Sep 2015

Some of the town’s leading chefs will be passing on a few tricks of trade when they take centre stage at next week’s Stratford Town Centre Food Festival.

And they will be joined in the festival’s Cookery Theatre by two leading TV chefs, James Martin and Simon Rimmer.

With everything from a kids’ gingerbread class through to a masterclass on cocktails, there will be something for everyone during the event which runs from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20. And the best part is that all the demonstrations and classes involving Stratford’s finest chefs and barmen will be free.

Phil Bailey, from the Falcon Hotel in Chapel Street, is one of those showcasing his culinary skills on stage. On Saturday and Sunday he will be conjuring up some amazing fish dishes but it all starts on Friday with something totally different – decorating gingerbread men and women!

“It’s all about making food interesting for children,” he stated. “We will be there to help them with their creations – whether it’s a footballer or a ballerina.”

Phil has been head chef at the Falcon Hotel for nearly 12 months and was previously with Alveston Manor and Billesley Manor. And he is looking forward to his events on Saturday and Sunday when he hopes to show that cooking with fish need not be an ordeal.

“For me it’s all about simplifying things and demystifying the whole cooking process,” he said. “It’s also about sustainability and using local producers when we can.”



The kids’ classes will be held on Friday from 4pm and are aimed at children up to ten years old.  Creating greek food is an option for children too.  This will be run by El Greco of Rother Street. 

Demonstrations in the Cookery Theatre on Waterside start at 11am on both Saturday and Sunday, with tickets for events involving TV chefs James Martin and Simon Rimmer costing £10.  All other demonstrations are free.

More than 50 local businesses will be involved in the festival, many of them taking stalls in Henley Street, Bridge Street and Waterside. There will also be entertainment on Bridge Street and Sheep Street over the weekend.

The main sponsors Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar will host a charity fundraising dinner with Simon Rimmer on Friday 18th, raising funds for Shakespeare Hospice and the Stratford Hospital Cancer and Eye Appeal.

Reserve your tickets now!  Go to 

Sponsored by 

Celebrity Chefs to Share Stage at Stratford's Food Festival

Aug 2015

Celebrity Chefs Share Centre Stage With The Best of Stratford at the All New Town Centre Food Festival!


Passionate producers and creative chefs are set to tantalise and tickle the taste buds at the all new Town Centre Food Festival sponsored by Loxley’s Restaurant & Wine Bar taking place from 18th to 20th September in Stratford.  TV celebrity chefs, James Martin and Simon Rimmer will share the stage with Stratford’s own culinary experts; their passion for food and creativity is sure to excite and inspire visitors to the Cookery Theatre. 

The town centre will be a feast for the senses with stalls showcasing every imaginable foodie delight from fabulous fresh ingredients, tempting hot and cold delights and everything you conceivably need to cook up a storm!  Restaurants around town are being encouraged to throw open their doors and come out into the streets, Sheep Street in particular is set to offer a truly al fresco dining experience.  Hot and cold foods stalls include Carluccio's wonderful wild & foraged mushrooms and truffles and, on the Saturday, there will be the superb Stratford’s Farmers Market on Rother Street.

Fantastic taste and real ale trails will add to the Festival atmosphere and showcase the unique and extensive food and drink offer Stratfordian’s and visitors to this beautiful town can enjoy.  Local chefs will take centre stage at the Cookery Theatre to provide free demonstrations throughout the event.

On Friday 18th the event will be launched in style as Loxley’s Restaurant & Wine Bar host a charity fundraising dinner with special guest Simon Rimmer.  This exciting event is a joint fundraiser in support of The Shakespeare Hospice and The Stratford Hospital Cancer & Eye Appeal.  Tickets are £75 and places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment on 01789 292128.

Tickets for the real ale trail, taste trail and celebrity chef demonstrations can be reserved online at and will be available for collection between 18th & 20th.

The event is organised by Stratforward BID who represent town centre businesses, and market contractor Geraud UK.   Stratforward Events Manager, Ruth Wood, said, “This festival is free to the public and we are delighted that more than 50 local businesses are taking part. There are still opportunities for more local businesses to get involved.”

For more info on the festival go to , twitter @FoodStratford.

From left to right Matt Humphriss Chef  El Greco, Phil Bailey Head Chef Falcon Hotel, Christian Mason-Baker Chef at Church St Townhouse