Harpur Centre in national awards

Published on 16 September 2021

Bedford Town Centre

Harpur Centre Manager Samantha Laycock  and team have made the shortlist for this year’s Sceptre Awards which take place in November.

The national Sceptre Awards recognise best practice and the best people in the shopping centre industry. They put the spotlight on management teams, retailers and suppliers 

Sam has been  nominated for Centre Manager of the Year and the Harpur Centre for the Community Initiative of the Year

Samantha has worked at Harpur Centre for 14 years and is also Chair of BedfordBID and Chair of the Town Deal Board.  For International Women’s Day, she was chosen as one of Nat West Bank’s 100 inspiring women.

Following a successful bid, it was announced in 2021 that Bedford’s Town Deal team have been  granted £22.6million to drastically improve the area for the local community. 

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Samantha responded quickly and effectively to allow essential stores to trade whilst keeping everyone safe. She worked throughout lockdowns to provide a good service to businesses and customers. 

An ‘out of hours” service to tenants assisted with reopenings when the time was right.

Thanks to all this, the Harpur Centre has bucked the occupancy trend, so that the number of tenants will be greater than before the pandemic began.  These new offerings will create an enhanced tenant mix and further increase footfall and ‘dwell time’.

The Centre has also been shortlisted for Community Initiative of the Year, celebrating the success of its community campaigns over the past twelve months. A campaign was centred around a celebration of local and national hero Sir Captain Tom Moore and NHS and key workers, by installing a mural in tribute.

For Captain Tom’s 101st birthday, The Harpur Centre team walked 101 laps of the Centre in branded t-shirts to raise money for The Captain Tom Foundation. The community initiative was a huge success, reaching 100% of their target on the Just Giving page for the foundation and a further £300 in donations were made throughout the day. Sam and team were joined by the Centre’s gym Energie Fitness, where the owner dressed in an inflatable dinosaur suit. The event injected some much-needed positivity into a difficult lockdown. 

To honour Sir Tom’s legacy, the Centre installed a giant yellow heart tying in with the national #LoveForTheLost campaign to raise awareness and honour loved ones lost due to coronavirus. The heart was placed alongside Sir Tom’s mural to show support of those in our community who had been devastated by the pandemic. 

The message behind Sir Tom Moore’s campaign was to support and give thanks to the NHS, which resonated with the community and nation as a whole, in this spirit, the team gathered messages from the local community to create a Valentine’s card for Bedford Hospital. The Ward Manager who accepted the card said:  “We all found the messages so uplifting, just what we needed...although they caused a few tears, they were all happy ones.”

Sam said: “For us just to be shortlisted in one category, let alone two, is outstanding and it wouldn’t have happened without the incredible team here at the Centre who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, supporting myself, our shoppers, and the retailers through a very trying year. 

“I am exceptionally proud of the team and our marketing company for their efforts in delivering such a successful campaign that truly resonated with us and the local community.” 


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