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Feb 2018

Some of the most memorable scenes from The Italian Job have been recreated ahead of this year’s Stratford Festival of Motoring - which is themed on the iconic 1969 film.

Three memorable Minis were snapped around Stratford, including historic locations like the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, ahead of the return of the annual festival on Sunday, May 6th and Bank Holiday Monday, May 7th.

The red, white and blue minis Minis are a nod to cars used by Charlie Croker’s gang to make their getaway after stealing millions of pounds worth of gold in Turin, resulting in what is widely regarded as one of the best car chases in movie history.

While Stratford’s streets are a long way from Turin, where most of The Italian Job was filmed and set, one scene - the chase through the sewer tunnel - was shot in the Sowe Valley Sewer Duplication system just down the road in Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry.

There won’t be any car chases through Shakespeare’s streets but the Festival of Motoring will see more than 300 vehicles lining up on the town’s streets after a tour through the surrounding countryside followed by a lap of honour.

This year they will include plenty of Italian Job-inspired vehicles, including Minis and Italian supercars.

The festival also offers interactive demonstrations, food, drink and live music and entertainment, giving two days of top quality, free, family fun to visitors from across the region.

Local car dealership Listers returns as sponsor for this year’s event - the sixth Festival of Motoring - and will be showing off their vehicles on Bancroft Gardens near to the Encore Hotel as well as on Bridge Street.

Ruth Wood, Events Manager at Stratforward, said: “What better theme for this year’s Festival of Motoring than one of the best known car-themed films ever. We couldn’t quite stretch to car chases through the streets of Stratford, but we managed to recreate a few scenes from the film to get people in the mood for a weekend of Italian Job-inspired fun.

“The Festival of Motoring is always a great success, bringing car fans from across the region and beyond to see an array of vehicles both old and new, and gives us a chance to showcase Stratford-upon-Avon in a unique way.”

Stratford Celebrates Success

Feb 2018

Stratford's Brilliant Business Success 

Stratforward BID Director Joe Baconnet has congratulated Stratford-upon-Avon’s town centre businesses after they dominated at the Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards. BID members swept the board at the glittering annual awards ceremony on Friday (February 9th) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, making up around half of the business-related nominations and walking away with eight gongs.

Speaking at the event, Mr Baconnet said: “To see so many of our members triumph in these awards, which saw stiff competition from across the area, is wonderful. Running a business at the best of times is hard, but against a backdrop of tough economic times, rapidly increasing operating costs, the massive growth of internet shopping and increased security issues, it is harder than ever. We know how hard our members work to create a thriving town for locals and visitors alike, so to see so many of them recognised for that is great.”

BID members who won included: Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen - The Artisan Award; The One Elm - Hospitality of the Year Award; Paul and Rhiain Foster, owners of Salt - Business Person of the Year; Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall - Team of the Year; and Escape Arts - the Educator Award.



Hoorays -Sara & Sasha Young with local MP Nadhim Zahawi



A special award went to David Beacham, owner of Coiffure by David, for his decades of dedication and service to business in the town. Another special award went to Dr Diana Owen, outgoing CEO of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, for her contribution to promoting Stratford worldwide.

Stratforward-sponsored category of Town Centre Business of the Year, went to long-established independent clothes and shoe retailer Gemini. Stratforward itself was a winner too with its ever popular River Festival voted Tourism Initiative of the Year, for the second time in three years. The festival is now in its tenth year, this two-day summer extravaganza attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the town each year.



Gemini - Clare Wright & team with Joseph Baconnet



Stratforward’s own Town Hosts were also shortlisted for the Customer Care of the Year Award, recognising the work they do to engage with visitors and local businesses on a daily basis.

Other BID businesses were among the finalists for the awards. Gemini was shortlisted for the Business of the Year Award, while A Fine Tattoo Establishment, The Fourteas Restaurant and Specsavers were finalists in the Town Centre Business of the Year Award. Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm and the MAD Museum both reached the final of the Team of the Year Award, while Salt was also a finalist in the Artisan Award.



 One Elm Matt Faulkner & team with Crowne Plaza 



The MAD Museum was shortlisted for the Arts Organisation Award alongside Escape Arts, which was also a finalist in the Community Impact Award and the Pride Award.

The Tourism Initiative Award was dominated by BID members and some of Stratforward’s partner organisations, with finalists including the Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm.



River Festival organisers Ruth Wood, Tor Wilkes & Richard Lees with local celebrity Quentin Willson



The success for Stratford businesses came as a blueprint for future business in the town came up for discussion. Consultation on a third BID term from April 2019 was launched 24 hours before the awards were announced. Mr Baconnet said: "The massive success of Stratford town centre businesses, including our own, at these awards, just reminds us all what can be done if we all work together.Stratforward’s role is to support our business community in their day-to-day battle to succeed. together, and with the help of other bodies such as Shakespeare's England, Stratford Town Trust, Stratford District Council and Warwickshire County Council we are committed to continuing to fly the flag for our town. We’re dedicated to helping attract people here and encouraging them to stay longer, visit our impressive range of retailers, restaurants and bars and other services, and return again and again in the future.”

Photos from the Observer, many thanks.  To read more in The Stratford Observer click here. 


Businesses Speak Up

Feb 2018


Businesses are invited to get involved in the future of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Business Improvement District (BID) as part of a consultation process launched today (Thursday 8th Feb).

The consultation is the first step in a process that will see town centre businesses vote this autumn for a third BID term. Stratforward BID is currently is in its second term which started in 2014 and expires in March 2019. BID3 would run from April 1st, 2019 to March 2024.

The consultation, which runs until the end of February, allows the nearly 450 businesses who are members of the BID (levy payers) to have a say in how they want any future BID to operate. It will be followed by the development and release of the BID3 Business Plan this summer ahead of a vote in the autumn.

Over the coming days, each BID member business will receive a copy of the official consultation document that outlines key BID services as well as the value they bring to the town and to the businesses who pay the membership levy. It also includes plans for the next five years, giving business owners a chance to set the priorities for the next BID.

  Click on the brochure front to read more....

Sara Aspley, Chair of the Stratforward Board, said: “Over the last nine years Stratforward has worked tirelessly to represent its members in what have often been complex, difficult and fast-changing trading times.

“Changing shopping habits over the last decade with the advent of internet shopping, mixed with tougher economic times and security issues, have seen high streets across the country struggle to keep people coming into towns. Stratforward has led the fightback in Stratford-upon-Avon, showcasing the town through campaigns and festivals to local as well as national and international audiences, encouraging them to continue to come to the town to visit member attractions but also to shop, eat, drink and do business.”

She added: “This consultation document highlights some of the ways in which levy payers see a return on the money they pay each year to be members, the value that Stratforward brings them and just how vital it is to continue together to carry on the battle to keep our town working.This consultation is really important to the future and direction of any third BID. What is said during this consultation period will be absolutely crucial to the development of the new business plan, so it’s vital that all businesses who are eligible take part and have their say.”

The document highlights six areas Stratforward provides service and adds value:

  • Town Hosts - whose work last year included 7,500 business visits, delivering six Ambassador Tours, manning the town centre security radio initiative and giving 15,000 directions to visitors.
  • Events - last year the award-winning events team delivered the ever-popular River Festival, Festival of Motoring and Town Centre Food Festival, which in total generated 132,000 visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Campaigns - promotions and campaigns to accompany major events, plus the Christmas-upon-Avon campaign and Fashion-upon-Avon Facebook campaign.
  • Staff savings - the Stratforward BID card delivered savings to 3,800 BID member employees
  • Business savings - the Joint Procurement Scheme to help businesses save tens of thousands of pounds on running costs, plus the NCP parking discount card, which saved staff an estimated £107,000.
  • A voice for business - the BID acts as a 'voice' for businesses, networking with other major organisations and representing the interests of its members on issues like planning, parking and traffic congestion. Its member newsletter keeps businesses informed.

BID Director Joe Baconnet said: “These are just some of the things Stratforward has achieved and the value we’ve brought to our members in the last year. Our small and dedicated team is fully committed to deliver what our members want and need. What we want to hear now is what people like about what we do, what works for them, what does not and what they think our priorities in the future should be under any third BID.” 

He added: “During the revote process, we’re not stopping the mainstream work. The task of promoting the town to locals and visitors continues through the work of our hosts and a packed programme of events and campaigns.  We are also committed to developing the business support and savings schemes that have proved so popular with members, not just retail ones, saving tens of thousands of pounds across the town. New initiatives such as the ‘Tax Free Stratford’ project, a new visitor map and being part of a regional accessible scheme are all in the pipeline.

“We are also continuing our lobbying and behind-the-scenes work with stakeholders such as Stratford Town Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council, Warwickshire County Council, Shakespeare's England, Stratford Business Forum, Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and others who promote Stratford as a destination for people and investment.”

 BID Director Joe Baconnet


Jan 2018
Its all about Stratford Festival of Motoring at the moment. 
1. Do you know someone with a Mini Cooper who'd be up for having their car on the poster for Stratford Festival of Motoring 2018?
It will need to be red, white & blue, and ideally 1960's as festival theme is The Italian Job.  There will be a photo shoot in Stratford. 
"Hang on, lads; I've got a great idea. Stratford Festival of Motoring 2018 theme will be, The Italian Job! "  Charlie Crocker 2018
2. Would you take photos at Stratford Festival of Motoring? 
Set your camera up on a stand and take photos as the cars come through the finishing arch
9am -1pm on Sunday May 6th  and Bank Holiday Monday May 7th
Edit & upload onto Flickr 
You will be paid.
Questions? Get in touch: 01789 – 299011

Happy New Year 2018

Jan 2018

Happy New Year.

Thanks for the support, involvement and enthusiasm over what has been a great 2017 for many of Stratford’s businesses.
The year began with a bumper crop of awards at the Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards for BID members - Gemini, Hoorays, The Dirty Duck, The RSC, and our very own Town Hosts, who scooped the Customer Care Award.

And BID members followed up the success later in the year, taking home a haul of gongs at the Stratford upon Avon Online awards

Wishing you the best year yet!

#stratforduponavon #2018NewYear

#FelizAñoNuevo Spanish

#bonneannee2018  French

#SzczesliwegoNowegoRoku Polish

#新年快乐 Chinese

#नया साल मुबारक हो Hindi

Christmas Crackers!

Dec 2017

Stratford’s businesses showed off their festive flair with stunning displays for the annual Christmas Window Competition.  From polar bear snow scenes to a traditional cycle shop creation, peacock-inspired decorations and colourful creations, retailers and restaurants alike pulled out all the stops to bring Christmas spirit to their windows.  The annual contest, organised by Stratforward BID (Business Improvement District), involves all businesses in Stratford town centre with street-facing windows.This year’s theme was simply ‘Christmas’ and the competition was split into two categories - Independent and National - with judging criteria taking in ‘creativity’, ‘engagement’, ‘experience’ and ‘impact and visual appeal’. Judges included Stratforward director Joseph Baconnet and Roy Lodge from the Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas Lights Company.

The winner of the Independent category was one of Stratford’s newest businesses, award-winning hairdressers Nashwhite, which impressed the judging panel with a snow scene starring a local Pashley bicycle in its Sheep Street salon.  Nashwhite co-founder Rob White said: “It was such an amazing surprise and honour to hear that we had won the Christmas Window Competition in our first year trading in Stratford. We wanted to bring a little Christmas magic to the town and think our collaboration with fellow traders ‘The Traditional Cycle Shop’ has done just this.”

A close second with a ‘Highly Commended’ from the judges was The Salon on Henley Street with a polar bear snow scene while fellow Henley Street business, ladies clothing specialists Domino, created a chic peacock and gold-coloured display.

A special mention from the judges also went to Barry the Butcher with a dazzling ceiling display of tinsel.

The winner of the ‘National’ category was Bridge Street’s Jo Malone, with an eye-catching colourful fun display.  Boutique Manager Lenka Sobotkova said: “Jo Malone London are delighted to have won this coveted award and thank Stratforward and the Christmas Lights Company for their recognition of our Crazy, Colourful Christmas window.”

The Christmas Window Competition is just one part of ‘Christmas upon Avon’, which showcases Stratford-upon-Avon as the perfect place to visit over the festive season.  From the successful Victorian Market, which brought a 91% increase in footfall to the town on Saturday, December 9th, to Thursday evening markets and a glossy brochure showing off an array of local businesses, Christmas-upon-Avon helps put Stratford on the map as the perfect place to come for festive fun, gift shopping and all the magic of Christmas.

Stratforward Events Manager, Ruth Wood said: “This year’s Christmas Window Competition was a hard-fought contest. The Independent shops shone through and we were delighted by their effort and creativity. This is just part of our work to make Stratford a must-visit destination over the Christmas period.”


Nov 2017


The magic of Christmas landed in Stratford at the weekend, with three lucky winners of the town’s Make a Christmas Wish Competition enjoying a magical carriage ride with Father Christmas himself. The winners were taken on a festive tour of Stratford Town Centre by Father Christmas, followed by an afternoon cream tea and special gifts. With the main man’s reindeer resting up ahead of their busiest time of year, the carriage was pulled by Shire Horses in a magical moment captured on camera by onlookers lining the town centre’s streets. The competition, organised by Stratforward BID and Magic Alley and supported by BID members WHSmith, Huffkins, Hathaway Tea Rooms and The Arden Hotel, saw entrants make a wish for someone else and enter those wishes for a chance to win.
Joseph Baconnet, Stratforward BID Director, said: “We knew that it would be a special day, but judging by the feedback of the winners and their families and the public on the street, we’re going to have to ask Father Christmas to come back early again next year! This competition wouldn’t have happened without the extraordinary wishes of all our competition entrants and winners. Stratforward also wants to give a huge thank you to all our BID businesses who supported the competition.”  Stratforward caught up with Father Christmas as he munched on a leftover mince pie from one of the cream teas. “I am so pleased to be able to make Stratford-upon-Avon the town that grants Christmas wishes,” he chortled. “I look forward to returning in the not-so-distant future...”

The Stratford Make a Wish Competition is just the start of an array of festive fun set for Stratford in the run-up to Christmas. The town’s stunning Christmas lights - one of the best displays in the country - will be officially switched on this Thursday (November 23rd), along with the lights in brand new development Bell Court.

The first of several late-night festive markets on Waterside will take place on the same day, returning every Thursday until Christmas, attracting people to Stratford from far and wide for all their Christmas gift-buying, and this year also sees the arrival of a Victorian Christmas Market from December 8th-10th, complete with vintage fairground rides, stalls and entertainment.

The Stratforward Christmas brochure has already hit the streets, showcasing everything the town has to offer over the festive period, from shopping for the perfect gift to the places to go for a pre-Christmas bite to eat or drink, or what to visit and where to stay. With 42,000 copies going to homes in the area, plus 8,000 to town centre businesses, they’re guaranteed to tempt people to the town this festive season.

On top of that, culture vultures can get into the Christmas spirit with an array of arts activities across the town, from the RSC’s production of A Christmas Carol to popular panto Jack and the Beanstalk at the Stratford ArtsHouse. And from December 13th-17th, Shakespeare's New Place will be transformed into a magical dance-circus spectacular by performers from award-winning dance-circus company Motionhouse.

“The weekend proved a great start to the Christmas period in Stratford,” added Mr Baconnet. “But it’s only the beginning. Our town really is the place to be this festive season, with great shops, restaurants, hotels and bars, not to mention our festive markets and entertainment. If Father Christmas loved it, we’re pretty confident everyone else will too.”



Christmas Window Competition 2017

Nov 2017

The Stratford Christmas Window Competition is on!  Looking forward to some fantastic festive displays.

Let us know your favourites!

The Best of Stratford - big congratulations

Nov 2017

As voted by members of the public!  Huge congratulations to all winners of the Stratford upon Avon Awards organised by Stratford upon Avon On Line.

Stratford River Festival was voted as the Best Event in Stratford!

Many thanks for all your votes - over 10,000 votes made for the awards! 

Extra congratulations to our members who have won awards - some won several categories:

1. Best Afternoon Tea: The Fourteas 
2. Best Amateur Theatre: The Bear Pit 
3. Best Attraction for Children: Butterfly Farm
4. Best Beer Garden: The Keys & Kitchen 
5. Best Boutique Hotel: The Townhouse 
6. Best Burger: The Bear 
7. Best Café: Boston Tea Party 
8. Best Coffee House: Box Brownie
9. Best Educational Attraction: Shakespeares Birthplace Trust 
10. Best Event: Stratford River Festival 
11. Best Hairdresser: Matthew Curtis
12. Best Hotel Restaurant: Le Bistrot Pierre 
13. Best Hotel: The Arden 
14. Best Ice Cream Shop: Hooray’s
15. Best Independent Shop: Gemini
16. Best Museum: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust 
17. Best Night Out: Everyman Cinema 
18. Best Place to dine Alfresco: RSC Rooftop 
19. Best Pub: The Keys & Kitchen 
20. Best Restaurant: Salt 
21. Best Shoe Shop: Charles Clinkard 
22. Best Shop: Vinegar Hill 
23. Best Tattoo Parlour: A Fine Tattoo Establishment
24. Best Tea Room: The Fourteas 
25. Best Theatre: The RSC 
26. Best Tour Company: Avon Boating 
27. Best Tour of SUA: Stratford Town Walk
28. Best Tourist Attraction: The RSC 

Congratulations all!




Take Your Partners Please!

Oct 2017

Stratford Town Centre Food Festival partners Cotswold Markets for more Food Glorious Food!

Cotswold Markets will be working alongside Stratforward BID to deliver Stratford Town Centre Food Festival 2018 on September 22nd and 23rd. One of the UK's leading market operators, and quality stall and marquee hire specialists, they provided a great partnership at the 2017 festival when over 60,000 people visited the town.

The festival will be expanded to include more streets: Bridge Street, Henley Street, Meer Street, Wood Street and High Street.  And there will be an emphasis on regional and local food and drink products.  

Stratforward Events Manager, Ruth Wood said, “We are looking forward to working with Cotswold Markets again.  Their ability to deliver and attention to detail is exemplary and the selection of regional produce was fantastic.”

Contact Cotswold Markets if you would like more information about hiring a stall at the festival.  Email or call 01608 652 662.