The New Year brings with it so much hope and promise.
After a solid 12 months of hard work and pressure, then an indulgent week on the chocolates and the booze we can safely put ourselves in the hands of the dieticians or fitness experts and turn over that new leaf we've been waiting for.
January can be a very low month for many. Less cash in the bank, back to work and another year older.
But it can also bring excitement and possibility. Who knows what will happen in the town, how different will the stories in this paper be this time next year?
It is the people of Kenilworth and the many events that will help shape 2009.
We're already looking forward to the opening of the re-creation of the Elizabethan garden. This is due to be completed in the spring, marking the final stage of the site's major investment programme. As already revealed in the Weekly News we hope to welcome a royal to open the new attraction. Finger's are firmly crossed it will be the Queen herself.
The Kenilworth Festival will be back and organisers the Rotary Club promise it will be bigger and better than the success we saw in 2008. Kenilworth's Lions and Round Table will also have plenty up their sleeves for the New Year and the young people of Kenilworth will also help shape things to come as Abbey Radio continues to broadcast on the web and entertain the masses.
There will no doubt be more change to come, some for the better and some for the worse. But we hope that Kenilworth will keep going strong and businesses will prosper so that we can welcome even more new business to the town by December 2009.
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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
As Christmas fast approaches, I am reminded that it is nearly two years since I joined the Weekly News.
On a personal note it has been a wonderful year with my wedding in August and I want to thank everyone who wished me well for the day and is still asking how married life is so far.
For Kenilworth itself, it has been a good, but tough year.
On the good side, we've seen many new businesses open and begin to thrive. Waitrose is the flagship retailer in town now, investing millions into the store and creating around 200 needed jobs in the area.
Part of the development on Talisman Square has been completed and is looking great and we've welcomed the revamp of the old De Montfort Hotel, now a Holiday Inn with a Starbucks.
We've also welcomed the new Loch Fyne restaurant at the former Clarendon House Hotel, Ego on Warwick Road and The Almanack in Abbey End.
These new places to socialise sit well alongside She Bar and Zizzis. The Kenilworth on Warwick Road has also expanded and now has five new rooms and
other businesses, such as new opticians and hairdressers, have also opened this year and continue to do well.
At Kenilworth Castle the garden is well on its way and we hope we might be welcoming a senior royal to open it in the spring. It is hoped that the Queen herself will do the honours. If she does, this will be tremendous for Kenilworth.
There are also proposals put forward to see how feasible it would be to re-create the mere at the castle and there will no doubt be more news on that in the New Year.
A year of roadworks has caused many more highs and lows. The high is the new sewer system we have thanks to Severn Trent, hopefully we will see a lot less flooding now in resident’s gardens. But the work meant enduring a low point as well. With Warwick Road closed off, many shoppers stayed away and rescue plans were put into action to help independent retailers.
One business we’ve sadly said goodbye to in the last few weeks is Let’s Create and it looks like we will lose our Woolworth’s store as well now thanks to the group’s financial issues.
Let’s hope 2009 brings more prosperous times for all and lots of new retailers to town.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
There is some degree of hope that still flickers, despite the massive reductions and empty shelves, that Woolworths might not be lost in this town for good.
Sadly, it is evident that the flicker is getting slightly less bright as the days go on, so we can only wait and see what happens now.
It’s possible that Leamington’s store will be transformed into a shiny new H&M, which will be well-suited for the area.
So what will happen to Kenilworth’s store? Who will take over?
It is a considerable space crying out for another good High Street name. Woolworth’s may not be synonymous with quality, but it is one of those places that’s always there and bound to have what you need.
A place to buy Christmas lights, children’s clothes, homeware, books, DVDs, CDs, games and the famous Pick ‘n’ Mix selections we’ve all bought at Woollies and then taken to the cinema to avoid the high prices.
It will be missed if it goes from our town, but let’s hope 2009 will see the arrival of another exciting retail prospect in Kenilworth.
There are some youngsters who just have to spoil it for others.
You will have seen our front page this week and no doubt be annoyed at the tiny minority of kids making trouble in this town.
Just last week we ran an article on the youngsters worthy of our time and effort as Abbey Radio launched. A lot of good young people have made this happen.
It’s good to know that the bright young things outnumber the silly kids who roam our streets after dark and think hassling and scaring residents is a fun thing to do.
Luckily, the lady who endured this behaviour in the early hours of Saturday morning managed to get a clear snap of one of the lad’s causing problems. The police recognised him and so hopefully justice will be done.
These youths who decide to behave anti-socially are kids in this town, the ones who take part in activities and have a positive input are young people who deserve respect.
It was a privilege to be at the launch event this week of Radio Abbey.
This community initiative is being run by the youngsters in Kenilworth and is a pioneering scheme for our town and possibly the region.
The youngsters involved know what they want and how to get it.
They are a group of bright young things from all walks of life and different schools in the district. But their passion for the town they live in and this initiative is clearly important to them and has brought them together as friends and colleagues.
This has been a massive project for everyone involved and thanks have to go out to so many. From the young people with the ideas and the creative passion to company’s like Solution’s Squared which has given hours of free time and designed and created the website for the station for free too.
Without these ingredients these things would never be possible.
It is our duty now to support this venture, no matter how old we are. Tune in to listen to the shows, enjoy the music and maybe even learn something about our younger residents.
So many are misunderstood and I think this project will show everyone what Kenilworth’s young people are really made of. Tune in on your PC on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 9pm.
The shows can be listened to from the website and promises to offer a mix of music genres for everyone. To listen in visit www.radioabbey.com. To send in requests, shout outs or anything else text 07983 315500.
Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh about Kenilworth’s Christmas lights last week in this column. I do know times are hard for all involved and thanks and praise should go to the committee for all their hard work in these difficult times.
On the up side, the Christmas trees in town all look fabulous and maybe the retro decorations are what make Kenilworth that little more special than the other towns.
You may recall the December 21 2007 Weekly News front page where we were promised that this year’s Christmas lights could be in line to take on Salzburg.
Residents were asked to vote for a change and more cash was appealed for to help make this happen.
So what did happen?
The lights are no different to last year. They certainly don’t rival anywhere and next to Leamington’s display it is pretty embarrassing.
Times are hard and we know this is partly the reason for the limited display.
We can forgive and appreciate that the works in the town don’t lend themselves easily to festive lights, particularly in Talisman Square, but aren’t we severely lacking elsewhere?
Warwick Road has been forgotten about. The lampposts have been decorated, but it’s fairly obvious these lights have been rolled out year after year.
The High Street has less of an area to cover in terms of lights so perhaps they have to spend less, but the classic white lights are perfect for that part of town.
Warwick Road could look just as good with white lights. In fact, further up the road outside St John’s Church there are some vivid blue lights on display. I suspect that High Street and St John’s don’t have 26,000 to spend each year on the lights and yet they seem to be able to pull off the more contemporary yet festive look.
So why are these throwback to the 1970s coloured bulbs all that the Warwick Road side of the town has year after year?
Perhaps the residents need to be more vocal about what they want for next year and maybe more money needs to be raised towards the Christmas Lights fund, something we can all get involved with.
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One of Kenilworth’s most interesting independent shops is to close this weekend.
Let’s Create was a small, niche shop that had many loyal customers who have supported the owner Karen Everitt through it all.
Sadly, this was not enough to keep afloat and on Saturday the shop will close its doors for the last time.
We wish Karen all the best.
To a reporter who has not served a decent stint in Kenilworth in more than a year, the town’s transformation is remarkable - and is all the more visible because of the workmen still painting, sticking down and sprucing up odd corners.
Finding my way to a car park demanded unexpected levels of concentration for a Monday morning, too.
But signs are that Kenilworth may be emerging from its chrysalis of roadworks and improvement into the harsh climate of a recession. Nobody dreamt this might happen when the promise of a new superstore and investment first seemed real. But the town has weathered worse, and should emerge the stronger.
One way to make sure Kenilworth continues to capitalise on its strengths - history, excellent restaurants, enviable green spaces - is to get the shops looking their best. In the past, plate glass windows and vast illuminated signs were the norm, but surely Kenilworth can do better.
The Kenilworth Society clearly thinks so, and is offering awards for those that show the surrounding architecture at its best.
It’s tempting to say some places have an unfair advantage. High Street and the Square as well as some buildings in Warwick Road spring to mind. Stalwart shops in unloved corners of certain precincts might feel they are victims of history. The 1960s, to be precise.
But the judges say they will be taking this into account, so we look forward to prizes celebrating Kenilworth’s ‘Festival of Britain’ inspired premises. Maybe.
Ideas have begun coming in for ways to help Kenilworth Sports and Social Club, and some themes are beginning to emerge.
Some lament the passing of a place where parents could go for a drink and have their children play in safety, others the loss of Saturday night dancing and concerts.
One of the most common may be the real reason for the decline in members - factories closing. Many of club members in the past not only lived close to each other, they worked together and it was natural for them to unwind together.
So what now? One man with generations of club members in his family believes a way forward is for the club to become a community hall. Perhaps that might help us rediscover some lost values.
Eagle-eyed shoppers in Kenilworth town centre may have noticed a worried-looking man emerge from a gate beside the Weekly News office on Monday afternoon. He paused for a moment, looked up and down the street and then went back in the front door.
It was a reporter, carrying out a fire drill on his own.