Visit Banbury has existed as a volunteer-led community organisation since April 2014.
Founded and driven forward by Tim Tarby-Donald, the organisation has fortunately benefited from the help and assistance of many people, Steve, Marta, Barry, Kate, Jacqui, Neil, Iain, Geri, Tina, Karen, Dewi, Rachel, Kerry to name a few, donating their time and resources freely along with many others, plus amazing collaborations with a variety of organisations.
We’ve had great support from many areas, from local councils and their teams, local businesses and media organisations.
However, we hope we have contributed lots and have played our part as a purely voluntary organisation as we have always tried to connect people, to build relationships and to drive a closer community network.
Here is a pack showing the range of activities Visit Banbury has been involved with, to remind you just what we have done as volunteers.
We have learnt a great deal since officially launching at the Banbury Positivity Summit on Friday 13th February 2015 and finally we have reached the stage we promised to, way back then.
We are bringing together a Board of Directors and a group of core volunteers to help launch Visit Banbury as a Social Enterprise, a business which will be for profit – but not for personal profit.
We feel that the time is right for some of us to participate in Visit Banbury as part of our regular work, but it will be our community and town more widely which profits as we can do more this way.
This will happen early in 2019 and we think we will be the first social enterprise in Banbury – please tell us if there are others as we’d love to collaborate!
We have an awesome group of people coming together but there is room for more so if you are interested, please get in touch.
We have lots of ideas for income generation and for social action projects and what we do will depend on the people’s time and resources we have available to us – and of course the need in our community to facilitate or do something.
So, please take a look back at what we have already done and then help us look forward and guide our activities for the benefit of us all, as the Time is Right !
Have you been into Banbury recently?
The old town is flourishing with interesting independent shops. If you like antiques, there are a number of shops in and around Parson’s street and an excellent new artisan café called The Rustic Bean with amazing cakes from Cotswold Baking.
Banbury is fast becoming an antiques, collectibles & one off furniture item emporium – check out the various indie businesses in Banbury’s Old Town when you #VisitBanbury
One recent addition is Antiquemodernmix which not only has an interesting & eclectic mix of antiques & more modern furniture items but also is a hub of creative arts & oh so fashionable (once more) vinyl records.
They have a final couple of available studio rooms if any creative types wish to have a pop up shop or craft studio to work in & sell from.
Check out all that they have to offer at 62 Parsons Street Banbury OX16 5NB
They have an Etsy shop too but don’t miss visiting in person.
Earlier in the year we noticed some posts on twitter about a proposed National Town Day to be held on Sunday 23rd September.
The tweets were by @YourTown https://twitter.com/yourtown which is a CIC (or Community Interest Company, a type of social business).
You may know that Visit Banbury is going through the process of becoming a formalised social business so we were keen to understand more about what they were looking to do.
Following some social media conversations with the founder Mark White it was agreed that as part of Your Town’s tour of 50 towns in 60 days, they would come to Banbury to meet up with me.
So during one of the coldest days of the year at the end of February (it was -6 !) we had a meeting in Pinto Lounge then went to set up by The Fine Lady Statue in front of Banbury Cross to record a short video about Banbury #OX16.
Then, as Your Town’s main concepts are built around running and wellbeing as well as celebrating our towns, they went off to the other partner in Banbury énergie fitness to do a 5km run around the town (very brave of them!).
Then over the last couple of months, working together with Mark, Ben Trickett manager of énergie fitness and Tim from Visit Banbury have agreed to try to make something special happen in Banbury on Sunday 23rd September, the date of the first National Town Day.
In short there are two elements of the proposed idea:
- A celebration of the Town Centre – hopefully shops & cafés who don’t normally open deciding to open and showcase their unique, independent offerings plus a range of exciting sport, art and retail focused activities – still all to be worked out, resourced and funded (where necessary) – but with the express intention of encouraging people to come into Banbury Town Centre who maybe have not ventured in before or not for a good while;
- A “Get Together” to start the day – this is a well established social 5km run, walk or cycle for people to take part in, which we hope if all comes together as we would like, it will start and finish outside The Wild Lime / HMV in Banbury. A unique element of this is that the event acts as a crowd funding activity for a local good cause or project. We hope, subject to the decision at the end of July, that the first one will be in aid of Banbury & District Community Bus Project but this may change.
In order to try to get the message out to a wider group of people associated with Banbury, Visit Banbury agreed to sponsor the Summer drinks for the latest Business Buzz town centre based networking event on Wednesday 25th July and the weather was very different to that freezing February day!
In glorious Summer sunshine we networked and chatted and the mocktails provided by The Wild Lime were deeeelicious and went down a treat on such a steaming hot day:
Importantly, we made the announcement about the partnership between Your Town, énergie fitness and Visit Banbury with an introduction video from Mark White:
It was effectively a soft launch as we still have much to do to make it happen but we have some positive feedback from Banbury BID, Your Letterbox plus others and so we really hope we can make it happen.
What we need to know from you:
- do you want to celebrate our lovely town?
- what could we all do to make that happen?
- what would you like to see happen on that day?
- could you help us make it a reality by getting involved to offer an activity, a special offer in your shop, to provide some sponsorship / funding, or to help recruit others to take part in the Get Together or simply to #VisitBanbury on the 23rd September?
This project is a work in progress – but we are putting lots in place, as you can see from the landing page Your Town is building for Banbury, so help us fill the gaps and celebrate everything positive about Banbury on Sunday 23rd September.
Thanks to Katrina, Lisa and James for a fab launch meeting and to everyone who supported the event on Wednesday and has expressed interest so far.
Want to know more or to get in touch?
Mark White firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Trickett Ben.Trickett@energiefitness.com
Tim Tarby-Donald VisitBanbury@aol.com
As part of the preparation for the Visit Banbury kick off meeting, I decided to try to map all of the main influencers on Visit Banbury as a project and I came up with a first draft.
I subsequently realised I had omitted the growing creative and arts quarter in Banbury Old Town, the numerous free family events run by Banbury Town Council and the interesting new developments at St Mary’s Church as it is reinvented as an additional location for arts and culture as well as spiritual wellbeing, so these will be added to the final version for the 1st March.
However, in the meantime I thought I’d share this version just as an example of the range and scope of the really exciting things happening in and around Banbury.
For anyone who is interested in being part of the Visit Banbury project in 2018 please note that there is going to be a kick off meeting on Thursday 1st March at 7.15pm in the Community Room in the new Waitrose on the Southam Road.
As some context to the project I was asked to write a piece for the Banbury Guardian’s new Voices section.
Many organisations (including those locally) use a tried and tested methodology of identifying gaps and problems and trying to solve or fill them.
This was initially my thinking when I set up Visit Banbury but following the first inspirational talk at the Eden Project Big Lunch Extras Bootcamp from Sue Hill I decided to rip up the plan and to change the approach!
I decided to lead with the positive things that existed in order to motivate and energise our community, so that maybe somewhere along the way we will be resilient enough to fix those problems, but we don’t want to start there – we want to celebrate everything that is good about Banbury and our community, not everything that isn’t good.
In brief, we want Visit Banbury to be based on positive psychology, explained very well here by Shaun Achor:
Please email me on email@example.com if you would like to come along.
When we set up Visit Banbury we were absolutely determined to promote everything that was positive and community focused about Banbury.
We think we’ve done a reasonable job so far with lots of events, lots of social media supporting local businesses, organisations, events and people and a fair amount of community cohesion to help bring people together around the town.
However, eighteen months ago we never dreamt that we would be needing to promote community cohesion in the way we feel we need to now.
Recent events have meant that both anecdotally and via official reports, the UK is seeing an increase in the amount of hate, racism and xenophobia shown to people who just days ago were treated exactly like the rest of us.
We know for many people this is not a new phenomenon as they have frequently experienced racism but for a whole group of people who have made the UK their home, all of a sudden the UK rather than being a tolerant, welcoming and open society has become at best unfriendly and at worst hostile and nasty.
So having attended BBC Breakfast’s Live TV broadcast from Banbury market place on Saturday morning Steve Gold and I sat and had a cup of tea at the Whistling Kettle and decided that irrespective of the political pros and cons, Visit Banbury needed to make some sort of stand in solidarity with all of the nationalities living and working in Banbury.
We decided to be the catalyst for a wider group of people to be able to show that they too were standing in solidarity with their neighbours regardless of race nationality or ethnicity.
And so was born “Banbury International”.
On Sunday morning, after quickly making contact with a number of different groups including Jake and the Banbury Community Action Group, the community focused folks at Naomi’s café, a network of positive individuals linked to a Visit Banbury initiative and also a dedicated Visit Banbury French speakers group in and around Banbury, we suggested to hold an event on Saturday 16th July in the BCAG Community Garden behind Naomi’s café and in order to quickly organise it, set up a closed Facebook Group for anyone who wanted to be involved.
After about 6 hours, 31 people were in the group and the event had been pretty much set up except for a few more specific details.
Following lots of frenetic messaging and emailing on Sunday afternoon and Monday, a group of us got together on Tuesday evening to finalise some of the details and the result of that is a free community event starting at 12pm which will be bringing together all of the communities in Banbury in a show of friendship solidarity and peace.
There is going to be live music, arts and crafts, activities for the children, a big table for everyone to bring food and share it amongst themselves and a pay bar at Naomi’s café.
There will also be a symbolic tree planting as a lasting sign of our community growing together.
Other details as yet are a little bit fluid as we want this to be an organically developing event, not too structured but more about being together sharing a common bond as human beings who just happen to live and work in Banbury.
Please keep an eye out for a Facebook event and posters and flyers around town in the coming days and please share them with all of your contacts so that as many members of the diverse communities attend and continue to build strong bonds across the town.
As some of you may know, the Visit Banbury initiative is based on ideas and an ethos developed by the Eden Project called The Big Lunch and Big Lunch Extras and we think this is a fitting way to continue to develop and sustain an amazing community network in Banbury.
Big love to you all and let’s make friendship and community a stronger force than fear and hatred.