Artists impress judges as Hitchin gears up for Great British High Street Awards
PUBLISHED: 12:54 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:54 18 September 2019
Murals and window paintings from homegrown artists are appearing in Hitchin as the town ramps up preparations for The Great British High Street Awards.
In August, Hitchin was nominated as one of three 'Champion Award' finalists for England, and is now fighting to be named the UK's best high street.
On Tuesday, September 10, a three-person judging panel were given a grand tour of the town, and were treated to a celebration of Hitchin's community spirit, environmental initiatives and dazzling artwork.
Clara Nicoll, a former pupil of Hitchin Girls' School, is a professional illustrator and mural artist. She was asked by Hitchin BID to brighten up the windows of the former Henderson shop in the town centre.
"I've seen Hitchin change a lot over the years, but it has always had a fantastic community," Clara said.
"If enthusiasm and dedication were criteria in winning the competition then it would be a definite win for our town. I've been bowled over by the effort people are making - and I hope it pays off."
Fellow artists Kim Raymont, of Kim Prints, and Cathy Smale have also been decorating shop windows and retail units with prints and murals of Hitchin landmarks.
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Hitchin BID town centre manager Tom Hardy said the visiting judges were hugely impressed with Hitchin's clear sense of community.
"The High Street Awards have boosted the perception of the town," Tom said. "This process has done amazing things for Hitchin, and for businesses in Hitchin, and it has been the foundation of our tourism strategy."
The British High Street Awards is a government-led competition, in which high streets are judged on community, customer experience, environmental impact and digital transformation.
Hitchin is competing with Freeman Street in Grimsby, and Belper Town in Belper, to be crowned the overall winner for England.
The victor will then face delegates from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the grand final.
Public voting counts for 20 per cent of the score, while the judges' decision accounts for 80 per cent.
To vote for Hitchin, go to thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk/high-street-of-the-year-awards/champion-finalist-hitchin
Voting closes on October 7.
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