Why I love Regency Cheltenham Spa...
Kathy Gleeson reminisces on the town she has fallen in love with
Recently I have been reminiscing and recalling why I moved to Cheltenham. Hailing from Leicester; think red cheese, crisps and Richard III, Cheltenham is a world away from my childhood. My first experience of the town was a genteel summer's afternoon listening to the thwack of cricket balls hurling through the warm summer air, quaffing Pimms and eating copious amounts of strawberries. How very civilised and refined. Tally ho....I craved more of this!
That was nearly 20 years ago. Like many an interloper to the town, Cheltenham has mass appeal. Currently we can boast the proud honour of holding The Sunday Times’ Secondary School of the year thanks to Pate's Grammar School and the town is very well served by other excellent state and fee-paying schools.
Many of my friends have moved to the town for all kinds of reasons but notably to raise their families in a safe environment. Of course Cheltenham has many other attractions.
Think of Cheltenham and chances are you think of our Festivals. Prestbury Park is the Oscars of jump racing. This month the town will be overrun with race goers including many thousands of welcome Irish visitors here for the craic. The place literally jumps with the roar of the excited crowd.
Bars and pubs awash with exhuberent, punters and diddly men and women (me included) singing and dancing their hearts content.
A fellow interloper Sue Blanchfield is a passionate advocate of all things cultural. Sue is a non-exec Director of Cheltenham Festivals. She enlightened me on the following; Cheltenham Festivals is a charity encompassing four festivals notably Jazz, Science, Music and Literature. Every year they invite more than 2,500 of the world's finest musicians, writers, scientists, performers and thinkers to entertain and inspire festival audiences of all ages.
The Festivals truly are for everyone and half of the attendees hail from Gloucestershire alone. The impact on the local economy is immense- in 2010 a study showed that £5.2 million is poured into local businesses!
I personally love all the Festivals. Please, attend them...it's part of our unique heritage and they also include the other festivals the town hosts including the Cheltenham Folk Festival, Brewin Dolphin Cricket Festival and Cheltenham Design Festival.
Raise your glasses, dance a jig....be proud of our town!
Photograph by Jules Beresford.