Ten of thousands of visitors every year are drawn to Richmond upon Thames by its beautiful setting on the river, great shops and restaurants, and the wonderful open spaces. Angela Ivey, who heads up Visit Richmond for Richmond Council, helps make sure that once they get here visitors find the prefect activities and locations to make their visit memorable. She, talks to Pippa Duncan about life promoting the best borough in London
‘What people may not realise about Richmond,’ exclaims Angela Ivey as she talks about her job marketing the borough, ‘is how many hidden gems you can find here. Of course, everyone knows about its royal and sporting connections, with Hampton Court and Twickenham Stadium but there’s so much more to the borough.’
Angela’s role for Visit Richmond is multi-faceted, promoting the area locally, nationally and internationally, with the Council, local partners and organisations. ‘We work closely with local attractions such as Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Twickenham Stadium and Strawberry Hill House and with hotels such as the Bingham and the Lensbury as well as tying in with major organisations like English Heritage, the National Trust and Visit England.’ A combined front means more leverage at getting Richmond on the map as a prime destination.
It’s the breadth of attractions on offer in Richmond which keeps Angela coming back day after day.
‘I was only supposed to be in the job for one month but, more than 10 years later, I’m still here! Like so many other visitors, I just fell in love with the place.
‘Richmond really has got everything – history, heritage, live music, theatres, fabulous restaurants, high street chains and boutique shops, the river and great transport connections. We organise trips for journalists from around the world to get a real flavour of the area. And when tourists turn up at the station, we have the information kiosk, manned by volunteers, able to direct them to the places they want to see, or get advice on where to go.’
Angela takes the volunteers themselves on educational visits for Visit Richmond, to places such the Rugby Museum or the iconic Original Maids of Honour in Kew for tea, so they know exactly what they are talking about when they recommend somewhere.
While visitors from far and wide are welcomed – and are a great boost to the local economy – around 12% of the borough’s jobs are supported by the visitor economy. Visitors can get brochures, maps and leaflets with information on the borough from the VisitRichmond Kiosk at Richmond Station.
Visit Richmond’s remit includes encouraging locals to make the most of what’s on their doorstep. So what are those hidden gems?
‘Well, Orleans House Gallery for one. The Gallery sits on the riverside in Twickenham and originally served as a stately home and has been owned by French Royalty and been a home to a Secretary of State for Scotland. The Gallery was built in 1710 and recently underwent refurbishment returning it to its old grandeur. We’ve uncovered some amazing elements in the refurbishment and it’s definitely worth a visit!
‘Another is The Normansfield Theatre in Teddington – a Grade II* listed theatre which has a wonderful and unusual history.’ It was built by John Langdon Down and created for both locals and residents of hospitals and asylums and has the largest collection of original Victorian stage scenery in the UK.
Angela manages the VisitRichmond website, attends local fetes and fairs across the 14 villages that make up the borough and works with London and national tourism agencies to raise the borough’s profile– look out for her stand at the upcoming Richmond May Fair, Kew Fete and Barnes Fair: ‘It’s a great way to bond with locals and understand what they want. Residents are really passionate about the area. We’ve recently been voted as having the best primary schools in London – so it really is the best place to llive, grow up and grow old in’
When large events are scheduled, such as the Olympic cycling race coming through Richmond Park in 2012 or the Rugby World Cup, Angela coordinates with the police, fire brigade and ambulance service to ensure there is minimum disruption for residents and maximum enjoyment for visitors.
‘It’s a job that brings me in contact with a whole variety of people and places and, although it can be exhausting, that’s why I love it!’
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