The Daily Mirror-backed High Street Hero Awards have honoured four exceptional independent retail businesses from around the UK as the British high street continues to battle through its toughest trading for decades.
The Daily Mirror selected one winner from each country in the UK. The High Street Hero nominations are part of the Great British High Street Awards held annually in partnership with Visa.
Mother of two Laura Armstrong from Strut Menswear in Belper Derbyshire, scooped the High Street Hero award for England. Laura heads up the Love Belper campaign to promote her market town to the Derwent Valley region, and there is hardly an empty shop in sight thanks to the great local efforts.
Alison Boa in Aberfoyle, Perthshire, was the Daily Mirror’s winner for Scotland thanks to her lovely souvenir shop, Walter & Betty. After opening in May 2018 she helped two women set up pop-up stalls – one selling cakes and jam, the other clay models outside the shop’s front. They now share a shop on the Main Street and together with Alison help sweep the streets in the absence of an official road sweeper.
Another Scottish high street, The Square, Kelso, was the Rising Star winner in the Great British High Street Awards.
Northern Ireland’s High Street Hero winner, Geraldine Lawless, is involved in ten organisations in Portadown, Co Armagh, one of which helps get disabled people into work. Geraldine runs Portadown 2000, the charity behind the local Millennium Arts Centre.
The Lion Pub in Treorchy, Rhondda Valley, was named as the winner for Wales. The pub is run by Adrian Emmett, who is also chair of Treorchy’s Chamber of Trade, growing its membership from 30 to 120.He also helped organise the first local arts festival and almost every shop in the town centre is occupied.
Treorchy High Street was also crowned the best in the UK thanks to its strong commitment to the local community, improved customer experience and a mindset which is both innovative and environmentally conscious. A newly launched Visit Treorchy website has helped give local businesses a greater presence online – before this, only 32 per cent of businesses had a website. A Hop, Shop and Save scheme offers businesses advertising space on local buses in return for instore discounts for customers, helping to promote public transport, reduce air pollution and drive footfall to high street outlets – 80 per cent of which are independently owned. Treorchy also hosts year-round activities and scooped a £15,000 prize in the Great British High Street Awards for its fantastic work.