Latest News | 2 December 2021

No room for acrophobia when Derby’s ambitions are this lofty

AV IT Media
Derby Arena
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Here, in his latest monthly column reflecting on the news over the past month, our Press and PR Executive Robin Johnson looks at the headlines.

I’ve never been very good with heights. In fact, I’ve been known to come over all peculiar just using a step ladder.

So, when I was told that Marketing Derby’s London Embassy was going to take place in the Sky Garden, on the 37th floor of the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building, my heart sank.

‘London’s highest garden’ its website proclaims – great.

However, I decided to swallow a big boy pill and ‘think Derby and Derbyshire first’ (a mantra that is drilled into the whole team here at Marketing Derby).

So, one late afternoon in November, I travelled down on the Bondholder Express (kindly provided by East Midlands Railway) for our annual showcase of Derby to those in that there London.

However, after a knee-knocking, ear-popping elevator ride up, what I was greeted with was nothing short of spectacular.

The panoramic views of London at night were something to behold. And strangely, once I was up there, I soon forgot about my fear of heights.

I was glad I went – but it had nothing to do with the views. Being able to meet our Bondholders, ambassadors and investors face-to-face was marvellous.

Yes, I’ll admit a few of them didn’t know who I was (after all, I’ve not been able to get to many in-person events since I started in this role due to the pandemic).

And I’ve just about forgiven those who did know me but thought I was still working for my previous employer, the Derby Telegraph.

Attracting inward investment is no easy task. It can be a very noisy marketplace, with towns and cities all clamouring for the attention of London investors.

Of course, I’m biased, but I really believe Derby and Derbyshire’s pitch is a strong one – and as it resonated across the Sky Garden, I hope it resonated with a few investors in the room.

You can read all about what happened on the night here.

And our good friends at AV IT Media have also produced this excellent film, which gives a great snapshot of the event.

Among the speakers at the London Embassy was Patrick Horgan OBE, Rolls-Royce’s director of global government relations.

The timing could not have been more perfect as just the day before, the firm announced it had raised almost £200 million to create a new business, Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR), which will build low cost, low carbon mini nuclear reactors. (Read the full story here.)

According to the firm, these will play a key role tackling the world’s sustainable energy challenge.

Making air travel greener is another major task Rolls-Royce is tackling head on.

As with automotive, electrification is seen as the holy grail for the aerospace industry and Rolls-Royce’s recent success with its all-electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft has given us a glimpse into the possibilities. (Read the full story here.)

The rail industry has also accepted the challenge, with another Derby company, Alstom, at the heart of things.

In November, it announced it had partnered with Eversholt Rail to deliver the UK’s first ever hydrogen train fleet. (Read the full story here.)

I think I may have said this before, but partnerships really are the key to success – just ask the private/public sector team behind the highly successful Derby Market Place Alfresco Dining Experience.

At the recent Derbyshire Business Awards, which saw a number of Bondholders taste success, Derby City Council and Katapult collected the Excellence in Collaboration title. (Read the full story here.)

I should also mention that Marketing Derby played a role in helping make that collaboration happen.

It is amazing what can be achieved when we put our heads together. If you want a physical example, you can see it emerging out of the ground in Victoria Street.

For years, the old Debenhams building and its surrounding area lay dormant – but you should see what is happening there now, thanks to the work of all the partners and stakeholders involved in the £200 million Becketwell regeneration scheme. (Read the full story here.)

As for the future, in November, Derby received another boost to its development pipeline.

In his Budget speech, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced almost £50 million (the largest single allocation from the Levelling Up Fund anywhere in the UK) to kick start the South Derby Growth Zone and Infinity Garden Village, bringing thousands of new homes and jobs to Derby. (Read the full story here.)

Back in the heart of the city, in November, we welcomed back a familiar name to our high street – Bennetts.

In my previous job, I wrote many stories about the precarious plight of the world’s oldest department store brand until it was rescued by Paul Hurst, owner of The Old Bell.

After taking the brand online, Bennetts has now returned with a small shop in Sadler Gate, with plans for more. Welcome back and good luck! (Read the full story here.)

Hopefully, all of our retailers will have a fruitful December following the trauma caused by the pandemic.

While Derby Arena served its purpose as a mass vaccination centre superbly, it has been good to see it recently return to its original purpose as a multi-purpose events space.

In November, the arena saw the return of the University of Derby’s graduation ceremonies, which saw 7,000 students (including one of Marketing Derby’s inward investment executives Christopher Tebbs) collect their degrees. (Read the full story here.)

Well done all of you, including those key figures who received honorary doctorates.

Of course, it’s not long now until Derby Arena starts hosting the annual Christmas panto. This year, it’s Sleeping Beauty. Oh no it’s not! Oh yes, it is!

That reminds me of my trip back from the London Embassy. With a new baby at home, I took the opportunity to grab some sleep on the train.

I managed to get a seat next to a lady who was busy working on her laptop. Eventually, I had to move so she could get off the train at Loughborough.

It was after she had gone that my travelling companions informed me that it was Nicky Morgan, or to give her proper title, Baroness Morgan of Cotes.

Yes, that’s right, the former Education Secretary, Culture Secretary and Loughborough MP (who I actually interviewed once when she came to Derby, visiting what was then Bombardier and is now Alstom).

I apologise to the Baroness if I snored. But thinking about it, being in the House of Lords these days she must be used to people dropping off next to her!

Anyway, have a safe and productive December – have a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to catching up with you all in 2022.

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