Pillar of the community ‘Mr Hitchin’ still going strong after 20 years!
- Credit: Archant
A pillar of the Hitchin community is celebrating 20 years in his role today – in a town which is given as an example to others across the world.
Keith Hoskins, known by many as ‘Mr Hitchin’, is marking two decades as town centre manager today – and is also making a welcome return to the Comet with his weekly column.
Keith, who was awarded the MBE for services to Hitchin by the Queen in 2015, got the job after many here were concerned the historic market town was floundering after the recession of the early 1990s.
It was felt that having Keith co-ordinate commercial matters with the community and the council might help lead to a renaissance in the town – which it most certainly has. Hitchin is now renowned as a thriving hub for independent business and talented creatives, a haven for foodies with quality restaurants and eateries – and a well-deserved reputation for having a real sense of community.
Keith said: “Hitchin’s been ahead of the curve for a number of years – reflected in the vibrancy of our culture, the demand for houses and our evening economy. We’re the first Fairtrade town in Herts and in the first five nationwide to bring in town centre management.
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“We’re quoted as an example of best practice and referred to internationally.”
Keith has many highlights, including meeting the Queen when she came to Hitchin during her Diamond Jubilee visit in that glorious summer of 2012.
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He also cites the growth of the Hitchin Festival, the popularity of the Christmas lights switch-on in Market Place and the beautiful summer flowers that brighten up the town.
Modest Keith added of his visit to Windsor Castle: “It was a really lovely day. The weather was beautiful and the setting resplendent.
“It was an honour – but I accepted it on behalf of the town. I very much see it as an honour for Hitchin, not myself.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to all the business and community groups for their support over the years and everyone I work with, including my PA Cherry Lincoln.”
Bubbly Cherry – who’s worked with him from day one on April 6, 1997 – reflected on their working relationship spanning two decades.
She said: “I recall when he came for his interview. We gave him a tour of the town afterwards. He was the only candidate who actually asked me questions about Hitchin as we walked around – which I thought was nice.
“A highlight was being at Windsor Castle when he accepted his MBE from the Queen. I had a ringside seat for proceedings.
“It was a wonderful day. A few of us had a couple of glasses of fizzy with him on a boat on the Thames after.”
Cherry added that Keith is exceptional at bringing different groups together.
“He’s measured,” she said.