Charity shops play a vital role in keeping our High Streets alive and are, for many charities, a major source of income. For some volunteers, they can be an essential connection with other people.  The PDSA shop on High Street is no exception.

Shop Manager, Dolly Neal, has managed charity shops for more than 15 years.  She knows how competitive the market is.  She says: ”Charity shops are really no different to any other retailer, we have to understand the market and work to attract people to our store.” 

Dolly has one assistant manager and 27 volunteers, one of whom makes a 55-mile round trip, just so she can work in the Cheltenham shop.  Julie, another volunteer at the shop, said: ”I could work in one of the charity shops where I live but I enjoy coming to Cheltenham.  There’s a lovely atmosphere.”

The BID has put Christmas lights on the Strand end of High Street and would not have been able to do this without the support of Dolly and the PDSA.  When we asked for their help in providing a power source for the ceiling of lights, Dolly was delighted and only too happy to help if it meant being lit up for Christmas.

Dolly and her team of volunteers are community minded and make a point of supporting the businesses on their doorstep. They took part in the Charity DJ Clash early in the year, which the BID supported.

PDSA Cheltenham take every opportunity to make the most of local and national events and holidays.  Every year in March their window display has a decidedly ‘horsey’ theme to celebrate The Festival™.

As part of the national PDSA centenary cycle challenge, they held a fun-filled open day with loads of  activities and refreshments for shoppers on High Stree who had the opportunity to join PDSA Director of Human & Corporate Resources, Karen Hailes, by cycling a mile alongside her on an exercise bike.

As BID Business of the Month, PDSA Cheltenham will have the opportunity to speak at the next Cheltenham Business Forum’s BIG Breakfast.

Marketing Cheltenham’s twinkling Christmas campaign has seen advertising on buses around Gloucestershire, on-line advertising, printed guides, a full ‘what’s on’ guide on and a push-out on the Visit Cheltenham social media channels.

The seasonal branding highlights the stylish atmosphere of our Regency town, and of course the magic of Christmas in Cheltenham.

The printed guide lists events taking place across Cheltenham through December and into early January. The guide is being distributed through the Echo and via BID Businesses.

We would like to thank the more than 40 BID businesses who have taken our dispensers and are distributing the guides to their customers.  Our ambassador Phil has been making sure they are kept well stocked.

We knew it would be hard to match the event we put on to celebrate Christmas 2018 – but we did it! See photo gallery here.

On Saturday 23rd November, a traditional Christmas story was given a modern twist when the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come paraded through Cheltenham.  Evenlode Productions and Emergency Exit Arts took the characters from Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and created three stunning, giant puppets who delighted the thousands of people who came to Cheltenham for the event.

The crowds that gathered to make sure Scrooge changed his miserable ways stretched from The Queens Hotel to Neptune’s Fountain as they watched Father Christmas turn the lights on.  One visitor said: “We came from Worcester to this.  It was something different and the children really enjoyed it.”

Having three characters meant we could draw crowds through all areas of the town and link them together. “It was wonderful to see people streaming down from Montpellier and gathering with those who had followed the ghosts from Cambray Place and The Brewery Quarter” said BID operations manager, Belinda Hunt.

Lights were switched on all around town, including, for the first time, Winchcombe Street.  Since the BID has been in operation, we have extended the reach of the Christmas lights to include The Strand, Cambray Place, Pittville Street, Clarence Parade, Regent Street and Winchcombe Street.  The new crossing between Boots and Primark is proving to be a popular spot for selfies. This is just one of the successful partnerships the BID has with Cheltenham Borough Council, without whose support we would not have been able to light up such a large area.

Sally from Frederick Allen Jewellers in Winchcombe Street said: “We’re pleased to see some lights up here, it makes it much more inviting. This is generally a busy side street but on Saturday it was particularly busy.”

Cheltenham really is beginning to be recognised for its spectacular light shows and the BID team are busy planning for Light Up Cheltenham in February.

As part of their role, Phil, Deb and Carolyn are there to help visitors to Cheltenham have a positive experience. This includes making sure people are well looked after should they be injured or become unwell, so it’s important that they all have the right skills and qualifications to do that.

BID Administrator Maria Allebone joined the ambassadors, Phil Cook, Deb Goodman and Carolyn Griswold to receive their Emergency First Aid At Work training.

The ambassadors have used their skills more than once, even waiting with them until the ambulance has arrived. An elderly lady took a fall in Montpellier and luckily Phil was there to help out, making sure her injuries were not life-threatening, getting her comfortable and helping contact her family.

The one-day course, delivered by Tidal Training Direct, included training in the correct use of defibrillators.

Alongside the BID’s recent contribution to the Cheltenham Guardian’s car and the purchase of three defibrillators, this qualification adds to our commitment to help keep Cheltenham a safe place for everyone.

During his 16-month stint on the BID Board, Oliver Bishop, of Elliot Oliver Sales and Lettings, has provided invaluable advice on how the BID’s projects benefit the many businesses within that sector, ensuring that they have a collective voice.

Oliver’s businesses have grown considerably over the past few years.  With this success has come the inevitable requirement for Oliver to spend more time overseeing them.  So, it is with regret that he has resigned from the BID Board.

If you represent a BID business* in the financial or building services industry, are a recruitment specialist or estate agent, travel consultant or solicitor or represent any other specialist non-retail business and would like to sit on the BID Board, please email Kevan Blackadder, BID Director at

*A BID business is any levy paying business in the Cheltenham BID zone.