Awards will recognise the best of town centre business

Bridge Street, Morpeth.
REF 0303158017
Bridge Street, Morpeth. REF 0303158017

The retail and commerce sectors remain the heartbeat of Morpeth town centre, just as they have been for generations.

History is on their side, going back to the time in 1199 when King John granted Morpeth a Royal Charter to hold a weekly market.

Morpeth Market
Picture by Jane Coltman

Morpeth Market Picture by Jane Coltman

Since then, through the Middle Ages and beyond, Morpeth has continued to build its reputation as a trading centre in Northumberland and the North East.

It is one centred very much around the markets, which would bring cattle traders to the town from as far away as the Highlands of Scotland.

Today, Morpeth remains as proud of its role now as a modern market town as it has ever been, serving not only local residents, but as a shopping destination without rival in the region.

It’s a reputation that has been earned through the quality and variety of the Morpeth shopping experience, offering, as it does, an unrivalled mix of big high street names and niche independent businesses that together give the town its uniqueness.

Together all those in business or working in the centre of Morpeth help to make our town such an attractive and vibrant place to shop.

Jacky Beesley, Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade Chairman

Add in the character, charm and heritage of the town centre; its colourful floral on-street and parks’ displays that have regularly caught the eye of Bloom judges; and the hospitable welcome Morpeth can offer through its cafes, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs and its easy to see why Morpeth attracts the large number of visitors it does each week.

It’s not surprising then, perhaps, that Morpeth will later this year recognise and celebrate the achievements of the best of local businesses trading in and around the centre of town.

The Heart of Morpeth Business awards have just been launched and applications are now open for entrants in seven different categories.

The awards are being promoted by Morpeth Town Team, with the assistance of the team’s main partners Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade and Sanderson Arcade.

The main sponsor of what promises to be a gala awards presentation evening is Cookswell Citroen of Pegswood, Northumberland’s principal Citroen dealer.

The various award categories are as follows.

Business Manager of the Year (sponsored by Inside Morpeth magazine and ThruYouDoor delivery service), Young Achiever of the Year (sponsored by WCRS), and the Emily Wilding Davison award for women in business in Morpeth (sponsored by the Northumberland Suffragette’s relative Geoffrey Davison and Emily Inspires, which organised a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of Emily’s death in 2013).

The Customer Service Team of the Year award is being sponsored by The Flag Man, the Independent Retailer of the Year is sponsored by Global Radio, the Community Engagement Project Award is being sponsored by Beach Design, while Taylor Wimpey will sponsor the Retailer of the Year Award.

A final award will be presented on the evening to the winner of a competition to find the best shop window display for the homecoming of Morpeth Town Football Club after its victory in the FA Vase final at Wembley in May.

Businesses are eligible to enter the awards if they are trading in Newgate Street, Bridge Street, Oldgate, New Market, Sanderson Arcade, Manchester Street, Castle Square, Wellway and Dark Lane.

Entry forms are now available from either Lumley House in Sanderson Arcade or via the moreinmorpeth website.

Completed entry forms have to be submitted by Friday, September 5, with a judges’ shortlist of finalists announced by Friday, September 16.

The winners will be presented with their awards at a gala evening being held at Morpeth’s Riverside Lodge on Wednesday, October 19, starting at 7pm.

Bookings for places at the evening, which cost £20 per head including a three-course meal, are now being taken at Lumley House in Sanderson Arcade.

Jacky Beesley, who chairs Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, says Morpeth’s claim to be the premier market town north of the Tyne, is largely due to the variety and quality of its shops and businesses in the centre of town.

“It is right and proper that we recognise and celebrate the success of those businesses, and the people who work for them, through the very first Heart of Morpeth business awards,” she said.

“Together all those in business or working in the centre of Morpeth help to make our town such an attractive and vibrant place to shop, whether you live locally or customers are simply visiting us.”

Plans are also well under way for another very special event in Morpeth in October — the fourth annual food and drink festival being held on the very first day of the month.

And organisers say it will be the biggest and best yet.

For the second year running, stalls will be set up in Bridge Street, as well as around the Market Place and in Morpeth Town Hall.

There will be plenty to see, do and taste at the festival, which has as its main sponsor BMW dealership Stratstone Tyneside.

One of the regular favourites that will be back again will be the show-cooking kitchen manned by local chefs and cooks from restaurants, take-aways, cafes and coffee shops around the town.

Watch out for more details in publicity releases as the Morpeth Food and Drink Festival date approaches.