Gullands High Street Heroes Awards 2022

When we first discussed the idea of the ways we could help support local businesses in Maidstone town centre in the run up to Christmas, we concluded that celebrating excellent customer service was important.  We wanted to find examples of the type of service that you only get when dealing with customers face to face and which sets apart high street businesses from others, especially those which are only online.

We know the importance that people still place on being able to come into the town to access shops, services and the many hospitality businesses and long may that continue.

When we launched the awards early in October, we gave the public the opportunity to nominate and tell us which businesses in the town had provided them with excellent customer service in the last 12 months. We also asked business owners to nominate their employees who they felt went above and beyond to deliver excellent customer service.

We were delighted with the response and we had nearly 50 nominations over a ten day period.

We invited One Maidstone and  The Business  Terrace to join us to sift through the entries and decide the winners.  We announced the winners in November at a ceremony at the Gallagher Stadium and Managing Partner John Roberts presented them with their winning certificates and we look forward to expanding this initiative in 2023.

General business services category

Winner – The Hazlitt Theatre & Martin Cleverley, the general manager accepted the award.

Nomination: “They have been amazing in setting up new dance and drama classes for the local community. Ensuring that all groups of people can be involved including adults and neurodivergent people.” And another said: “They provide an excellent youth dance and performing arts programme for children of all ages.  The team there go above and beyond to be inclusive and to create a welcoming family atmosphere for the young children of Maidstone, giving them the opportunity to perform and be involved in performing arts.”

Runner-up – Switch Youth Services & Mark Chase collected the award.

Nomination: “Switch is a charity that helped my daughter when she was in school, they provided a safe place for her to attend to enjoy time with her friends.”

Employee winner is Ciara Foster from CPR Recruitment.

Runner up – The Maidstone Street Pastors (25 volunteers) Nigel Downes accepted the award.

Nomination: The Street Pastors have been operating in Maidstone Town Centre on Saturday nights between the hours of 10pm and 3am since October 2008.  The project involves volunteers from approximately 15 Christian churches in and around Maidstone and it is based at the Switch Café.  There are two core teams, namely the Street Pastors and the Prayer support team.  The Street Pastors operate as a team of 3-5 people who walk around the streets, primarily focussing on concentrations of pubs and clubs.  The Pastors respond to the needs of the town centre and their primary activities range from engaging with the young people out enjoying themselves and providing a friendly and calming influence through to much more focussed interventions such as responding to individuals incapable through drink.  They engage closely with the street population and assist with information, food and drink and they provide a listening ear.  They work alongside Kent Police, Maidstone Borough Council, One Maidstone, Urban Blue bus project and Safer Maidstone Partnership to support them in their initiatives to make the town a safer place at night.  They also work closely with the proprietors of most of the major centre clubs and bars through the town.”

Retail category

Winner – The Golden Boot.

Runner-up – Kris Van Hafden fruit and veg stall on Earl Street

Nomination: “Kris remained open throughout the pandemic providing an enticingly colourful display of fruit and veg. His cheerful demeanour and easy banter provided many with much needed conversation. Indeed, many shoppers lingered once items were bagged to continue to natter.  His beautifully displayed produce is always fresh and he will happily weigh single items and if required offer best value advice.  He is a very cheery and much loved presence on the high street.”

Winner (employees) – Vieux Barbers Shop, Taylor Brignull accepted the award.

Nomination: “They can be counted on to provide an exceptional level of customer service 100% of the time.  Their reputation is far reaching across Maidstone and beyond. I have recommended their shop far and wide – each time receiving positive feedback.  They have brought people from outside of Maidstone into the town centre which in turn boosts our local economy.”

Runner-up – the team at Handmade With Love and Sally Howells and Kelly Wells accepted the award.

Nomination: “They are the charity shop which makes and sells clothes and craft items to raise money for the work they do.  They offer support to help families who suffer birth trauma and baby loss. Staffed by volunteers and stocked by teams of knitters it always has something fantastic to sell.  A wonderful shop, great voluntary staff and all money raised is spent on their work for those unfortunate parents and families who experience the worst thing in life.”


Winner – The Mu Mu Experience

Runner-up – The Market House pub and Sarah Hanlon accepted the award.

Nomination: “They are always friendly and very welcoming.  When I have popped in with my children for lunch the staff have made a real effort to converse with the kids.  The food is consistently good and the facilities are too.  Management obviously care a great deal about their staff and their customers and that comes across when visiting.  The bands in the evening are always great quality too.”

Winner (employee’s hospitality award) Ð the team at Notorious B.R.G

Nomination: “The guys have earned their number one spot on Trip Advisor for a mix of quality food and their incredible customer service.  Whether it’s a quick laugh from a singalong to Country Roads with the cowboy hats on or helping autistic customers with every and any need they may have, the team always step up. I am super proud of them as a team and couldn’t be more thankful for such a fun and attentive team being the face of our company.”