Business in Cirencester primed for Abbey 900 Festival

Cirencester's business community has been given a glimpse of what to expect for next year’s Abbey 900 Festival.

Plans of a Plantagenet and civil war re-enactments, May Day Fair and a large Lego brick model of the Abbey church, made up of 70,000 pieces, were all showcased in the town’s church to members of the Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders.

It was also announced that the town’s Royal Agricultural University is to become an official partner of the year-long festival and would start its involvement with a special fundraising dinner, in honour of Abbey 900, on November 25.

Next year sees the 900th anniversary of the founding of Cirencester’s Abbey, “the beginning of the cultural and economic success of the town,” according to Cirencester community development Trust Ltd’s Jonathan Davies.

“Abbey 900 will be great for Cirencester and the plans show there will be something for everyone. The group behind the project has worked tirelessly on this and they should be very proud, as are we at CCDT Ltd, and this is why we are supporting the project.”

Abbey 900 chairman, Corinne Lamus said: “The work has really only just begun and we are now looking for businesses and individuals to get behind the project and help us with funding.

“You can become a Festival Partner like the RAU and contribute not only funds but stage an event, you can sponsor an individual event for as little as £100, or you can become a corporate friend of Abbey 900.

“Lastly, you could become an official provider like Talking Wines, who are our official wine provider.”

Tom Warton of Barrington Ayre - Sewing the Seeds of Change

I set up Barrington Ayre Shirtmaker & Tailor in Cirencester as the classic English look and feel of a beautiful little Market Town fitted wonderfully with our English made tailoring. My customers who don’t live locally love coming to visit us here (apart from the parking that is!), as they love sitting in our wood panelled showroom looking out over the Market Place. The Town means a great deal to me as it was where my children were born and where we live and after having a slightly nomadic life before finally settling down it really is home to us all.

The local community is also incredibly special and I play 6 a side football locally as well as being a very keen cricketer playing for Rodmarton. I am incredibly lucky to also have a very loyal customer base locally and many of my customers have become friends who I see on a social basis. I try and use as many local companies as I can in my business life and our website is run and supported by a local firm as well as my PR company also living in Cirencester. I was lucky enough to win The Cirencester Ambassador of the Year Award last Year as well as Barrington Ayre winning Business of The Year at The Cirencester Business Awards and this is something we are very proud of. I try to shout about how great Cirencester is as much as I can and really want to put Cirencester on the map as a real home for fine tailoring and a true alternative to Savile Row.

I love Cirencester but do worry that with the Town struggling to cope at the moment with the parking requirements and infrastructure needs, the recent proposals to seemingly build houses on every spare piece of land as well as the enormous proposed development at Chesterton, we don’t look back on Cirencester in years to come and realise what a beautiful place it once was when it is too late.

Luke Cameron - National Philanthropy Manager 2015

Luke Cameron lives in Cirencester with his fiancé and their dogs, Freddie and Broadie.

My journey to self-discovery was an unusual one.

After always wishing and dreaming a life in the fashion industry, I achieved my goals at a young age. By 21 I had been taken on the coveted John Lewis graduate buying program and I thought my life was set.

But over time I began to feel something missing, something fundamental in my core. I always knew that this wasn’t it, even though everyone else around me told me I had made it.

After walking away from my life in London I came home, to the Cotswold’s where I met Maura.

Maura was one of those people who change the way you look at life, she spent her days dedicated to helping others. Selflessly putting her friends, neighbours, family and even strangers before her own wellbeing; making sure that whoever she crossed paths with left knowing they were loved.

She sadly passed away in the summer of 2013 after a long struggle with cancer. But what moved me more than anything was that her love and admiration of everyone else around her didn’t go unnoticed. See, 5,000 people turned up to pay their respects at her funeral. 5,000 people from across the world made sure that they said goodbye to a woman, who at some point in their lives, helped them.

When you witness such an incredible display of kindness and affection it makes you look at your own life.

The days after her funeral I started to question my own motives, my own purpose in life. How many people would show up to my funeral? Surely not 5,000 – that’s for sure.

So after a solemn Christmas following her death I made a vow. I made a vow to take a page from her book and live the way she did. I vowed to do a random act of kindness for a complete stranger every single day for a year and see if it would change my life.

So, on 1st January 2014 I started a page called the “Good Deed Diary’ on Facebook to document my year of helping others and doing good.

Never did I anticipate that the Internet world would grab hold of my musing and catapult me on to the global stage. Within a few months of documenting my daily deeds I was thrust into the limelight, showcasing my kindness to the world.

The irony is I never set out for this to be the case. I just wanted a place to write down my daily diary as a statement of my commitment to helping others.

The mania grew and within 6 months my page had racked up thousands of dedicated followers all over the world – all sharing and commenting on my kindness to others. A movement began.

Then in late summer one of my followers posted a link to a new job role called the “Nicest Job in Britain” on my page. The job boasted that the individual would get the chance to travel the country and help 45 different charities in the space of a year. Seeming too good to be true I apple and little did I know would go on to travel the UK and help some incredible causes.

I won the competition and started my role as the National Philanthropy Manager in January of 2015, a few fays after finishing my year of good deeds.

I had taken it from humble beginnings to traveling around and helping even more amazing people in need.

I successfully finished my year as the National Philanthropy Manager, visiting my 45th charity in late December. But in the wake of my 2 years of selfless acts the world’s media followed. Having my own ITV documentary, a double page spread in the Washington Post Magazine and a plethora of other press around the world.

From the simple act of kindness to a worldwide movement – inspiring others to go out and help a fellow stranger in need. All started from one woman selflessly dedicating her life to others.

Find out more about Luke's work at www.thegooddeeddiary.com