Cheshire Life campaign to support shops, markets, attractions and hospitality

Joanne Goodwin, editor of Cheshire Life Photograph: Clara Lou Photography

Joanne Goodwin, editor of Cheshire Life Photograph: Clara Lou Photography - Credit: Archant

Editor Joanne Goodwin announces Cheshire Life campaign to regenerate Cheshire and its independent businesses

Your County Needs You says Cheshire Life

Your County Needs You says Cheshire Life - Credit: Archant

Click here to submit your nominations for the 2020 Cheshire Life Keep Life Local Awards

It doesn’t need the abnormality of lockdown to become unwittingly spirited away from the realities of the moment for an hour or so with a book or magazine.

My recent brush with lost time had nothing, alas, to do with Marcel Proust, but was a nonetheless gripping read, with surprising and thought-provoking twists I feel compelled to pass on (spoiler alert: book clubs of Cheshire look away now).

The unlikely page-turner was an Office for National Statistics Report from January of this momentous year. Hardly a candidate for the BBC’s list of 100 tomes that shaped the world, but I found myself engrossed by some of its findings.

Here are a few examples: For every resident of Cheshire and Warrington, goods and services were produced worth £34,896, the second highest in England outside of London. Pre-pandemic we had an economy growing at a faster rate than the rest of the North West of England. Average income here had risen by 3.3 per cent, and, as the new decade began to awaken, the overall size of the economy was worth £32.48 billion, cementing the region’s position as an economic powerhouse.

And, of course, we spend the major proportion of that disposable income within a few miles of our homes. All of which illustrates, in stark terms, the crucial importance of Cheshire’s doorstep economy.

While the pandemic has made the world a smaller place, it has also reinforced and reconfirmed our individual societies. Our ability to travel may have been curtailed, and shopping and social habits contracted, but we hunkered down into neighbourly communities where life revolved around our town, or village, or street. We queued at the butcher and the baker, spoke more often over the garden wall, or to strangers while outdoors – not simply because we had this new, common bond, but because those often slight conversations and small friendships have seemed all the more precious.

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Now the slow path to recovery is opening up, and those independent businesses that have once again proven to be the backbone of our communities face an uphill struggle.

They will never receive the help and sympathetic hearing given to large store closures. But these shops and bars, restaurants and stately homes, hotels and beauticians, tea rooms, garden centres and visitor attractions now, as never before, need the patronage of the people they serve through good times and bad. They are integral to the combination of entrepreneurship and local spirit, customer service, and communities built around independent businesses, that will get us back where we belong.

This month, Cheshire Life launches a campaign, including an awards section, to support the region’s economy and to encourage readers to Shop Cheshire and to Keep Life Local.

Please nominate your favourites, and please support and use those businesses that pulled us together in the past and helped make those January statistics a reality; that were with us over the last few months and will continue to make Cheshire what we know it is and always has been – a community based on a wealth of spirit that comes from the commitment and passion of its residents towards the places where they shop and socialise.