Ballymena Man Shortlisted in UK High Street Hero Awards
WELL known as the man behind The Front Page Bar in Ballymena, Stephen Reynolds has just been shortlisted as a finalist in the High Street Hero category at this year’s Great British High Street awards. Nominated by the Ballymena BID, Stephen was the obvious candidate who fulfilled the criteria, as he has not just contributed to the BID but to the High Street and the wider Ballymena community.
The awards, run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Visa, recognise and celebrate local achievements on the UK High Streets and support the communities in which we live and work. The awards are made up of entries from throughout the UK and this is the first year the awards have included Northern Ireland.
Stephen Reynolds is one of three people from Northern Ireland who has been shortlisted for the regional High Street Hero Award, a category highlighting exceptional individuals within the community who run great initiatives and programmes to improve the high street experience for all.
The highly respected Ballymena native, who is also Vice Chairman of the Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID), has provided a first-class customer experience to visitors to Ballymena and fellow traders for many years as part of his role as proprietor of The Front Page Bar.
In addition to this, Stephen has been an active member of many local voluntary organisations including the Hospitality Ulster Board, Ballymena Retailers Against Crime (BRAC) and Ballymena Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking about making the shortlist, Stephen said, “I am delighted to have made the shortlist for the High Street Hero award. It was an unexpected surprise but I’m proud to be representing my hometown of Ballymena. Having the opportunity to showcase our wonderful town and showing people what a great community we have is something I thrive on and being recognised for that is a great achievement.”
Over his 28 years in business, Stephen and the team at The Front Page Bar have given back to the local community by raising tens of thousands of pounds for various charities through organising events and fundraising activities.
Stephen and his wife, Marie, helped set up the now annual ‘Senior Citizens Excursion’, which sees older people from the local area enjoy a day out to a Northern Ireland location with complimentary lunch, drinks and entertainment provided throughout the day. Their most recent trip seen 25 people visit the beautiful Rathlin Island, off the Country Antrim coast.
Encouraging people to visit Ballymena Town Centre is something Stephen is passionate about and he has been involved in various initiatives to bring people together including, “Shutters Up” night, the Town Centre Christmas Market, the famous ‘Discount Day’, Giro D’Italia family fun day and Ballymena Historical Walking Tour.
Alison Moore, Ballymena BID Manager said, “ I’m absolutely thrilled for Stephen and Ballymena. This is great recognition for him, Marie and the team at The Front Page Bar, in all that they do for the wider community. We’ll have our fingers crossed for the big event in London, but to be one of 12 finalists across the UK is fantastic.”
Stephen is also passionate about the development of young people, sponsoring two local football teams and creating a hugely beneficial ‘Student Hospitality Training Programme’ to equip students with the knowledge and experience required to find part-time work within the hospitality sector, whilst studying at University.
The winners of the High Street Hero awards will be selected by an independent panel of judges and announced at the Great British Awards ceremony in London, which takes place in November.