Mary Portas Returns Home to Launch Big Events

The Queen of Shops voiced her joy at being back in her 'homeland' as she kicked off the start to months of lively events yesterday.

The Queen of Shops voiced her joy at being back in her 'homeland' as she kicked off the start to months of lively events yesterday.

Mary Portas, and mayor Dorothy Thornhill, launched Watford Big Events - a year-long series of entertaining and free events - to hundreds of spectators in front of the revamped pond.

Ms Portas, praised the look of the new pond and The Parade while reminiscing of the old one. She said: "I think it [the new Parade] is the soul of the town... There are people here to enjoy it.

"Watford is a vibrant, special town that will always mean so much.
"Being Watford born and bred, I am delighted to be opening Watford's Big Events. Our High Streets are our heartbeats, they form one of the most important social fabric of our community and the way we live, so this will be brilliant for the town.
"Big Events is a great way to showcase local talent and I am so proud to be involved. I'm happy to just be a part of it, I'm really enjoying it."

The retail guru is also known for completing 'The Portas Review' in 2011, a government review that looked into the future of high streets and ways to develop them to better benefit the community. 

Speaking of the improvement of Watford's high street, she addressed the crowd about the important role the high street plays in our lives.

She said: "High streets aren't just about shopping, they're about encouraging us to engage in where we live. We can never underestimate what the high street means to us.

"High streets and our towns are the heartbeats of our community.

"The fact that we are here today means that we want to meet, we want to get together, we want to commune."

Newly re-elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill said the pond 'was never going to stay the way it was'. 

While speaking to the crowds as the town’s Big Events programme was launched, she said: "This is about creating a space for you.

"Doing nothing, and risking our high street falling into decline wasn't an option for me. I wanted Watford to not just survive the recession, but thrive once again.

"So we invested £4.3 million into major improvements to the public realm and are completely redeveloping our ailing shopping centre.

"We have also begun the construction of a 21st century covered market and developed the biggest arts and cultural events programme in the County."

(Written by: Isaac Ouro-Gnao)

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