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Bury St Edmunds businesses invited to learn more about neurodiversity

A groundbreaking workshop has been launched to help town centre businesses understand neurodiversity.

The workshop is a collaboration between mental health wellbeing company, Three Eggs Training, and Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (Our Bury St Edmunds).

It’s aimed at helping town centre business such as shops, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, theatres and dentists, understand neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD and autism.

The idea is not only to boost awareness in the workplace but also create a more ‘neurodiverse friendly town’ for residents and visitors.

Louise Newby, director of learning at Three Eggs Training, said: “The workshop is for anyone who wants to understand more about neurodiversity.

“This includes how neurodiversity impacts individuals, changes that can be made to make environments more accommodating, and how interactions with neurodiverse individuals can be improved.

“Neurodiverse conditions can cause people anxiety, when people are forced to live in a neuro-typical society.

“A shop with bright lights and loud music can be challenging for example, or perhaps the way information is printed or presented.

“The workshop will also help staff to understand what to look out for, and how they can help if, for instance, someone has an autistic child who is having difficulties.

“A number of businesses have already introduced changes and in many ways, Bury is ahead of the curve.”

The first workshop, which is free for BID members, is being held at the Bury St Edmunds & Farmers Club, on February 5, between 9.30am and 1pm.

Already 15 of the 20 places have been booked.

Louise added: “We use activities to help people understand what it’s like to be dyslexic for example, alongside videos and information.

“We are seeing a lot more organisations becoming aware of neurodiversity, the same way they did with mental health three or four year ago. It is our most powerful workshop in terms of the impact on people.”

Three Eggs works with businesses, schools, sports teams and public sector organisations and provides training courses covering a range of topics including mental health, neurodiversity, menopause, dementia, pregnancy, safeguarding and bereavement.

Mike Kirkham, Bury St Edmunds Improvement District business support manager, said: “We’ve had such a positive response, as I know our businesses aim to provide the best experience possible for their customer.

“Our town centre has so many great qualities. My hope is that becoming neurodiverse friendly will become one of these.”

BID members can contact for details.


Bury Free Press BID Column January 2024

It’s always good to start a new year with optimism and Our Bury St Edmunds received good news from our footfall figures for December recently. In the week leading up to Christmas our data shows that the town was busier than at the same time in the previous two years. Coupled with the results of our benchmarking survey of businesses, shoppers and visitors to the town centre from which a couple of key points were that people tend to spend more money in town compared to the national average and that 70 per cent of businesses rated the prosperity of the town as positive – it’s very encouraging. While we know that there are still challenges in the economy, it is always useful to see how the town centre is performing compared to others nationally and regionally, especially when the results are so positive.

It’s a busy time of year in the town centre too next month with lots to look forward to not least the first ever Bury St Edmunds Comedy Festival which runs from 1 February. The Apex, Theatre Royal, Guildhall and The Hunter Club have been working hard to make this happen supported by Bury St Edmunds and Beyond and the BID. Matt Forde and Brian Bilston are just two of the big names to look forward to.

Meanwhile the eagerly anticipated Second World War series for Apple TV+, ‘Masters of the Air’ (launching today) has strong connections with the Bury St Edmunds area. The town’s tour guides have produced a special guided walk to coincide with it and it’s hoped that interest in the series will bring tourists and visitors to the town.

Also in February we’ll see the opening of Everyman Cinema in the basement of the former Debenhams at arc Shopping Centre. The building will also house the eagerly awaited Primark branch which is due to open just a few weeks later.

Of course the shopping centre also hosted the Bury St Edmunds family ice rink over the Christmas holidays. This attraction was made possible by a partnership formed of the BID, arc Shopping Centre, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and West Suffolk Council. It was also an opportunity to support Gatehouse which runs the food bank for the town and early indications suggest around £2,500 was raised to support their work.

All of us at the BID were shocked and saddened to hear of the unexpected death of Maria Broadbent the former owner of Casa. She joined our Board in 2016 bringing an energy and enthusiasm that would see her go on to chair the organisation. Our condolences to Maria’s family and loved ones.

By Mike Kirkham, Business Support Manager, Our Bury St Edmunds BID.


Last few days of Dry January? Here’s what you need to know to keep with it.

If you’ve been doing Dry January but are now looking for more variety rather than soft drinks and sparkling water then there are plenty of options in the pubs and bars of Bury St Edmunds town centre meaning you don’t have to turn down a night out or think there’s nothing to entice you in.  And if you haven’t stuck to Dry January but still fancy a change, read on for some delicious low and no alcohol options worth sampling.

Eating out but want to keep a clear head?  Mowgli Street Food offers Lucky Saint 0.5% lager or try their mango lassi yoghurt drink. Take a look at Verve’s special Dry menu of mocktails where you’ll find a selection that includes a Toffee Espresso Marti-no or a Mock Mango Marg. They also have zero alcohol amaretto, gin and rum as well as a number of lagers.  Plus there’s even a 0% bottomless brunch on offer too.  At The One Bull – as well as their usual range of 0% beer and wine look out for some new flavours from Crossip.  Try rich and spicy Dandy Smoke with a ginger beer or cola.  Sister establishment Damson & Wilde has a selection of no-alcohol cocktails too.

Mocktails are very much the flavour of the month at many of the bars in town. Fancy a Flight of the Dove or a Cat’s Meow?  They’re just two of the mocktails at Baskervilles.  Or pick a Coconut and Pineapple Punch from the range on offer at Edmundo Lounge.  Staying with the fruit flavours how about an Apple No-jito at Boosh? And try an Elderflower Spritz at Lipstick and Locks which combines beauty salon with cocktail bar.

If you’re heading to a show at The Apex then check out the range of low and no alcohol drinks at the bar.  They include a 0% gin and from local brewer Greene King a 0.5% version of the popular Old Speckled Hen.  Local pubs with a selection of low and no include The Masons Arms with Heineken 0.0% alongside their range of Cask Ales to try after Dry January.

Whether it’s for a Dry January night in or a booze-free weekday because it’s a work night, then there are lots of shops in town that can help.  At Beautiful Beers you’ll be able to choose from a selection that you might not find elsewhere such as vandeStreek Fun House New England IPA 0.5%, Sassy non alcoholic organic cider 0% and Viven Nada IPA 0.3% to name but a few.  At Adnams town centre shop you can pick up the 0.5% version of Ghost Ship or Wild Wave the 0.5% cider.   And at Nethergate there’s a 0.5% version of their popular amber ale Venture – it’s called Venture Point Five.

Don’t forget that if you do fancy a tipple you can follow the Our Bury St Edmunds Ale Trail on the LoyalFree App.  All the establishments featured will still welcome you for a soft drink, low or no option and perhaps even a cup of coffee.  Keep visiting and follow our social media channels for all the latest updates from Our Bury St Edmunds.

Why January’s offers in Bury St Edmunds are not to be missed!

Chase away those January blues with a visit to Bury St Edmunds town centre and make the most of the fantastic offers around this month.  These are constantly updated at so make regular checks to ensure you don’t miss anything.  At the moment you’ll find great deals including up to 50% off at local businesses such as: Javelin; Gerald Boughton; Abbeygate Lighting and So Bar.  And check out the sales at Sneezums, Cycle King, The Wine Cellar, Sunrise and Verve Bar and Restaurant.

Got an Our Bury St Edmunds Gift Card for Christmas? Now’s the time to make the most of it in the sales.  There are more than 70 businesses currently accepting it so the hardest thing about spending it is likely to be where to choose to shop first.

You could start at arc shopping centre where you’ll find plenty of the big high street names – soon to be joined in the spring by Primark.  It’s then just a short walk to Cornhill and Buttermarket where you’ll find other town centre favourites and of course the bustling market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

There’s a wealth of independent shops in Bury St Edmunds too and where better to start than in St Johns Street?  From Beautiful Beers to Vinyl Hunter there’s so much to explore.  A short walk across town and you’re in Abbeygate Street. Here you’ll find gifts, jewellery, lighting and fashion. Turn into Hatter Street where the eclectic range of shops includes those selling flowers, antiques and even cheese.  Then wend your way to Angel Hill.  As well as the magnificent hotel from which it takes its name you’ll find restaurants, cafes, shops including Olivia Benn boutique and of course the Abbey Gardens and the Cathedral.

In between all that shopping, there are plenty of fabulous cafes, coffee houses and other places to eat and drink around town when you want to take a break.  If you always choose plant-based treats – or perhaps you’re just giving Veganuary a try then you’ll find a trail featuring many of the eateries in town that offer plant-based options on the LoyalFree app.  Just select Bury St Edmunds, choose tours and trails and click on the vegan eateries one.

In the trail you’ll find the newly refurbished Pizza Express where the pizzas include Sloppy Vegan as well as plant based versions of favourites such as Padana and Giardiniera.  There are a number of the other high street names on the trail too or why not pay a visit to some of the independents that give Bury town centre its amazing foodie vibe.

At Gastrono-Me whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner there are options such as dark chocolate porridge or beer-battered avo tacos to make you want to come back long after Veganuary is over.  Edmundo Lounge has an extensive choice for eating in or take away – look out for the vegan tapas menu.  And staying with the Mediterranean flavours do try the mezze at Francela too.

Mexican restaurant Amigos has a vegan menu including jackfruit wings and vegan chilli tacos among the specialities.  Health and wellbeing café Primal 8 in Risbygate Street always has plenty of healthy snacks and drinks.   Keep an eye on Bay Tree Café’s Insta for mouth-watering photos of their delicious Veganuary dishes.  Enjoy a hummus, avocado and pink pesto bagel at Lotties on Angel Hill or be really decadent with the vegan Biscoff waffle.

For three-course fine dining look no further than Maison Bleue but if it’s a coffee break you’re after then head to Midgar and;” enjoy a vegan jam oat slice with your hot drink of choice. And why not treat yourself to a selection of vegan chocolates from Marimba before you head home?

Keep visiting and follow our social media channels for all the latest updates from Our Bury St Edmunds.  And once you’ve enjoyed the vegan trail on the LoyalFree App why not check out some of our other trails too.

Holocaust Memorial Day to be marked at St Edmundsbury Cathedral

On Friday 26 January, St Edmundsbury Cathedral will hold a special service in the Abbey Gardens for Holocaust Memorial Day, to remember the victims of genocide. The service will take place in the Peace Garden in the Abbey Gardens at 10.30 am.

The theme for 2024’s Holocaust Memorial Day is Fragility of Freedom. The title reflects on the ten stages of genocide, as identified by Professor Gregory Stanton, which demonstrate that genocide never just happens. Instead, it’s a staged process where piece by piece, freedom is taken from a group of people by limiting movement, religion, creativity and more. During Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), all victims of genocide are remembered, including more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Joining the Cathedral for the service will be local schools Guildhall Feoffment, County High School and King Edward VI who will contribute readings and music. As well as the special service at 10.30 am, the Cathedral will be open throughout the day for reflection and contemplation.

Later in the day on Friday 26 January at 7.00 pm, the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Youth Choir will offer an act of meditation for Holocaust Memorial Day. They will sing works exploring themes of suffering, peace and reconciliation, including Gregorio Allegri’s famous Miserere mei, Deus. This liturgical performance will take place by candlelight at the High Altar.

Revd Canon Matthew Vernon said, “This year, it feels especially important to reflect on the victims of genocide as we see a horrifying humanitarian crisis unfolding in Israel and Gaza. We should all feel the call to challenge discrimination in our time and to better understand how, stage by stage, it can occur.”

Alongside the service, an exhibition titled, ‘We have to move on’: Jewish refugees in Suffolk in WW2’ will reside in the Cathedral from Tuesday 23 January to Sunday 4 February. Through the exhibition, discover the stories of the Jewish refugees who found a safe home in Newmarket in Suffolk during the Second World War. This travelling exhibition from the National Horseracing Museum and Suffolk Archives was inspired by the memoir of lawyer and cellist Fritz Ball, who wrote about his experiences as a refugee in Suffolk. The exhibition will be available to view during Cathedral visiting hours.

On Saturday 27 January, the Cathedral Tower will be lit in purple, along with iconic buildings and landmarks in the UK, for HMD’s Light the Darkness campaign – a powerful national moment of commemoration and solidarity. The public can also take part by placing a candle safely in their window at 8.00 pm on 27 January.

Paying Tribute to Maria Broadbent

It was with great sadness that we recently heard about the passing of Maria Broadbent, former Our Bury St Edmunds BID Board member & our Chair between 2021 and 2023.

BID Chief Executive Mark Cordell said: “I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Maria, in my capacity of BID CEO, for over 10 years.

“She was one of the most entrepreneurial, enthusiastic, creative, innovative and hard working business owners I have had the pleasure to work with.
Her contribution to the BID during her tenure as a Board member and for her last couple of years in Bury St Edmunds, as our Chair, was considerable.

“She had a very varied employment history and used the experiences and qualities she had learned and developed elsewhere, to the benefit of her business, Casa and the BID.

“She left Bury St Edmunds a year ago to start a new business and move nearer to her family who she adored.

“Maria was a larger-than-life character, with a great positive personality, a can-do attitude and was someone who frequently saw opportunities where others saw difficulties.”

The photo below is of Maria in action at our Food and Drink Festival doing what she loved.

The thoughts and sympathies of our team are with Maria’s family at this very difficult time.

Ice rink attraction raised £2,500 for local charity

arc Shopping Centre has announced that the ice rink at Charter Square, a partnership of arc along with Our Bury St Edmunds BID, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and West Suffolk Council Levelling Up Fund, has raised £2,500 for local Bury St Edmunds charity and arc’s charity of the year, Gatehouse.

The ice rink, located in Charter Square from December 14th until January 3rd, was made free to the public with donations to the charity encouraged. The festive activity saw an incredible turnout from participants of all ages, providing a fun and memorable event for the community.

The ice rink was a joint endeavour funded by four partners, including arc Shopping Centre, Our Bury St Edmunds BID, Bury St Edmunds Town Council, and West Suffolk Council Levelling Up Fund. Allan Hassell, Centre Manager for arc Shopping Centre, said: “I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Our Bury St Edmunds BID, Bury St Edmunds Town Council, and West Suffolk Council Levelling Up Fund for their generous support in bringing this marvellous attraction to the town.” “Not only were we able to raise an incredible amount of funds for Gatehouse, we were able to provide the town with a free, family friendly activity at a time of year when everyone is feeling the pressure.”

Through a combination of private hire, card transactions, and cash donations, the ice rink managed to raise an impressive £2,500. This will be donated to Gatehouse Home Store and Food Bank, a local charity committed to helping those who are most vulnerable.
Amanda Bloomfield, CEO of Gatehouse, expressed her gratitude, stating, “I’d like to thank all those who made donations to Gatehouse. The ice rink was a lovely family activity bringing a real festive feel to Bury St Edmunds.”

“The donations raised by the rink will go towards our services to the community, helping relieve poverty through practical and emotional support, providing a safe space for people to meet, make friends, and reduce isolation. I’d also like to thank the team at arc for all their fundraising in 2023, making a significant difference to those we help.”

Mark Cordell at Our Bury St Edmunds BID commended the success of the ice rink: “Bringing a free to use ice rink to the town for the festive period was the result of positive partnership work in order to attract people to the town centre but allowing them to spend their money with our businesses, rather than on entertainment, during this cost of living crisis. “I was delighted with the response and the positive comments we have received. It was lovely to see so many people using the rink, particularly young families and the fact that £2,500 was raised for the Gatehouse Charity was a fabulous bonus.”

Positive year ahead predicted for Bury St Edmunds town centre

Business leaders in Bury St Edmunds say new data from a town centre study gives cause for optimism in the local economy during 2024.  Coupled with footfall figures from the week before Christmas, which show that nearly 25% more people visited the town centre than in the same period in 2022, it suggests that some of the challenges of 2023 are starting to diminish.

The benchmarking study commissioned by the Business Improvement District (BID) organisation Our Bury St Edmunds asked for feedback from those who visit or live in the town centre as well as business owners.  A record 99% of respondents said they would recommend a visit to Bury St Edmunds to others and more than 70% of the businesses questioned rated the prosperity of the town as positive.

Where spending is concerned, Bury St Edmunds is faring better than the national average for similar sized towns. On a typical visit to the town 31% said they spend between £10 and £20 but 44% said they spend more than £20, which is 4% higher than the average.  And 80% of those questioned said they visited the town at least once a week. Turnover had been as good or better in the last year for 85% of the businesses questioned compared to 63% nationally.

The results have been generally encouraging according to Our Bury St Edmunds BID Chief Executive Mark Cordell, and measures are already being put in place to address areas highlighted as needing attention.  He said: “This report makes welcome reading as we head into 2024.  I was especially pleased to see that around three quarters of the businesses who responded were positive about the work of the BID, particularly highlighting our marketing and free training courses for member businesses.  From the public perspective our cafes and restaurants, were very highly rated – significantly more so than the national average and at a similar level to previous years as a very valued aspect of the town centre.

“The footfall recorded in this survey on both market and non-market days was higher in the busiest part of town than any of our previous studies and also around 30% higher than the national average.  Together with the most recent footfall data from our own monitoring showing that numbers for the year to date were up by nearly 8% on 2022 this is very encouraging.  Bury St Edmunds has out-performed both the regional and national figures for that week, compared to the previous year.”

The survey also asked respondents for their views on where improvements could be made.  As in previous years’ reports, car parking issues were highlighted by both users and businesses.    A number of respondents also commented on anti-social behaviour and suggested more visible policing in the town to reduce this.

Addressing those concerns, Mark Cordell added: “The policing model for the town has changed in the last month and I have already met the new dedicated police officer who is committed to addressing anti-social behaviour including street drinking as a priority.  I have also arranged for the Police and Crime Commissioner to visit Bury St Edmunds soon to meet business owners and hear any concerns, particularly concerning retail-related crime.

“Although parking is not an area that comes under the BID’s remit, I will be sharing the results of the survey with those responsible for parking at West Suffolk Council and continue to engage with the authority to bring concerns from business members to their attention.”

In many aspects of the report, Bury St Edmunds scored well above the national average for similar sized town centres. The significant findings of the research include:

  • A record 99% of respondents (compared to 91% in 2021) said they would recommend a visit to the town to others, which is 30% higher than the national average.
  • In terms of business confidence, 44% of businesses reported they expected their turnover to increase in 2024 compared to 34% nationally.
  • Physical appearance, cleanliness, hospitality, cultural activities/events and retail offer all scored significantly higher as positives compared to other towns.
  • Convenience shopping and leisure were the two most popular reasons given for visiting the town centre – both more than 10% higher than the national average.
  • The aspect rated highest as a negative was car parking by 45% of respondents which is broadly in line with the national average.

The study was carried out by researchers from People and Places Insight Ltd via online and face to face surveys.  Businesses were invited to participate via a postal or online response.