Market Heroes’ Award winners recognised at Virtual Conference

Market Heroes’ Award winners recognised at Virtual Conference

The National Association of British Market Authorities hosted over 120 delegates at its virtual one-day conference yesterday (4 Feb 2021).

After a turbulent year for markets and high streets, the culmination of the event was the announcement of the winners of NABMA’s Market Heroes Awards.

NABMA in association with NMTF and our sponsors Blachere Illumination invited nominations for various categories in the Market Heroes 2021 programme. The awards were established by NABMA to recognise the amazing service that markets and market people across the UK have made to support local communities and markets during the ongoing challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The judging panel was councillor Mick Barker, President NABMA, Joe Harrison, Chief Executive NMTF, Rob Nixon, NABMA Support Services Consultant, Graham Wilson, NABMA Legal and Policy Consultant and David Preston, NABMA Chief Executive.

Without doubt all the nominations as received are regarded as Market Heroes and each will receive a certificate signed by the respective Presidents of NABMA and NMTF, and Blachere Illumination as the awards sponsor.

Market Manager

The judging panel would wish to place on record their grateful thanks to the many nominations received with each highlighting the incredible work and personal sacrifice that many market managers have made since March 2020. It was therefore agreed that two awards would be made in respect of larger and smaller markets.

Larger Market – Market Manager

The nomination for this award winner recognised the individual’s tenacity, commitment and personality in his role as markets manager.  This manager encouraged and supported all fresh food traders in the market to remain operational; to provide home delivery and click and collect services; and a result increase the market Facebook followers from around 4,000 in March to 16,000 at present.  Trader WhatsApp groups were set up and overall occupancy levels have remained stable during the crisis.  Covid risk assessments were reviewed and adapted in line with the various national restrictions and at the same time work continued on plans for a £5million improvement to the market.  The judging panel recognised the vital conduit that this manager played between decision makers and traders, representing and reconciling the best interests of both. Above all it was acknowledged that this quiet and unassuming individual has provided resilient management, excellent team leadership and most importantly, elected members, traders, and the market team have bought into his methodology.

The award is presented to Peter Entwistle Bolton Markets General Manager

Small Market – Market Manager

This award is given to an individual who in the view of the judging panel has transformed a market and providing a model of good practice for the future for other small markets to follow.  The nomination set out the person concerned as being inspirational, it involved a micro budget, reflected on a one-year project to regenerate the market and the outcome has been enterprise, passion and a social success.  Despite lockdown issues the nomination highlighted how the marketplace had been transformed; how footfall has increased; part-time jobs had been created and a profit was made in 2020 despite lockdowns.  Added opportunities and resources had been provided for the wider community to access including hygiene products, a community foraging and gardening site and an area to promote reuse and recycling. The nomination made it clear that the individual, in the most difficult of times had literally transformed the whole market, and the community vibe in the best possible way.  It was hard to disagree.

The winner is Jane Boys, Rawtenstall Market Manager

Large Market Team

This team of 8 staff it was considered went the extra mile keeping its traders working in both temporary and permanent markets despite restrictions and national and local lockdowns.  As well as keeping a temporary market open, the team also worked with its traders to move to a new market.  The market team assisted traders in accessing the available grants and also negotiated rental discounts with the local authority owner. Like other markets click and collect and home deliveries were facilitated; cleaning regimes were intensified and excellent relationships were built up between management, shopping public and traders.  Operating one market during the pandemic has been difficult but working across 2 sites provided the ultimate challenge which this market staff team met with commitment, passion and huge success.

The winner is Warrington Market

Small Market Team

This award is presented to a small Market Committee comprising of a group of Town Councillors and trader representatives. It is a small outdoor general market with approximately 30 stalls.  The nomination was made by the local member of parliament.  Initially the market was closed but due to the wishes of the shopping public the market committee devised a plan to implement a change of layout, one way system, washing stations etc. One market committee member even donated PPE for use by all visitors to the market.  On each market day the committee members turned out as volunteers to support the market superintendent and help manage the new layout.  This market was approached by the cabinet office to make a film showing the market as a good working example that markets are open for business, they are safe and controlled, thereby helping instil confidence in both traders and customers.  This market team has shown leadership, commitment and the unstinting work of individuals and volunteers has ensured that the market has continued and thrived.

The winner is Swaffham Town Council  

Market Innovation

The nomination declared 2020 as a reset year for this market.  Throughout lockdown it provided a delivery service to many in its community who through age or underlying conditions found it uncomfortable with supermarket shopping, or were fearful of leaving their homes. 

The market allowed free rents and discounts and also supported traders by signposting them to grants.  Free deliveries were provided during the Christmas period and by partnership working additional income to traders from the 800 delivery service orders has been in excess of £20,000.  Some 75% of traders now offer cashless payments as a preferred method of transaction. The delivery service has demonstrated the unstinting commitment and effort of the team by adapting to new working practices and precautions. They have assisted those in need, putting themselves at greater, provided service above self but always working with a smile and good humour.

The winner is Newark Royal Market

Market Trader

This award goes to a greengrocer’s business.  It is a real family team that has fully embraced the changes happening in retail, social media, marketing, payment options and recognising the importance of eye-catching outstanding display techniques.  Not only did this business provide deliveries to customers during lockdowns but it also started to combine cooking food with its own produce.  Social media presence grew and on-line master classes were delivered with the family sharing recipes and also promoting awareness of mental health and how to try to cope with the day to day challenges of life.  The application was not just a story about a market business but about a market business that had evolved during the pandemic to become the life and passion of the family members in seeking to help and support others. 

The winner is McMahons Greengrocers

Young Market Champion

This is award is made to a youth market created in 2017 as a platform for young people to create and sell their own products.  Young traders now traded in 5 of the 6 street markets within the Borough boundary.  Each young trader has been involved in training courses on key skills such as merchandising, sales, customer service, budget management and social media, with online courses delivered throughout the pandemic.  This is a group of young people who have been empowered and enabled as young entrepreneurs to deliver a fantastic offer to visitors to the market. During the pandemic the young traders have taken the opportunity to continue to develop and support the community; providing free home deliveries of goods, collecting donations and creating food parcels to be delivered to the most in need and vulnerable. They also used their own time to buddy up and contact some of the most vulnerable and elderly to ensure they were checked on regularly and had someone to talk with during the pandemic.  This is an application of enthusiasm, commitment, care and dedication.

The winner is Hackney Youth Market

Friends of our Market

This section saw some nominations of local councillors recognising the vital role that they can play within their local community.  This award is presented to a local councillor who stepped into the shoes of the market superintendent in March due to shielding.  This Councillor on a voluntary basis arranged the layout of the market, provided PPE and dealt with all the stall holders in what was described as a fair, friendly and even-handed manner and even collected rents and banked.  Amazingly during the past 12 months the market has actually grown primarily due to the friendly environment created by the Councillor which is considered to be a triumph in the modern days of internet shopping.  The councillor also appeared in different costumes on different days to cheer up the local situation and even climbed the church tower to take a photograph to illustrate the degree of social distancing of market customers which he put on social media to give confidence that those unsure of local conditions.  The judging panel recognises that this Councillor has done his small rural town a great service which has been performed both enthusiastically and in a purely voluntary capacity. 

The winner is Councillor Ian Johnson of Masham Parish Council

Outstanding Achievement Award

This special award is made jointly to a market manager and his market team.  The market team moto of “improvise, adapt and overcome” has certainly been delivered during the pandemic.  This market team deliver some of London’s premier markets and in two years a significant trading deficit has been overturned.  The applications as made for each section of the Market Hero awards demonstrated strong relationships with traders; sensitive commercial management; bespoke marketing and a complete overhaul of market policy.  Throughout the pandemic the manager has provided unstinting leadership, supporting colleagues and traders even on days off or into the evenings.  The nomination declared “he cares for people and has built a family out of a broken group of individuals who are now one of the best market teams in the UK”.  In the pandemic all traders signed up to the Alexandra Rose Charity voucher scheme and some 5,000 vouchers have been processed supporting the most vulnerable and in need.  Huge trader support has been provided and trader checks set up supporting the financial and mental wellbeing of service users.  This outstanding achievement recognises how in a short period of time a failing markets operation has been turned around using innovation, risk taking, new ideas and creating and inspiring a new team and retail offer. This in turn has shaped new job opportunities and greater social cohesion in a Borough where a third of the children live in poverty.

This special, and outstanding achievement award is made for the nominations received in each category and as recognition of an outstanding manager, team and ongoing innovation as demonstrated within a very special markets service.

The winner is Dan O’Sullivan and Hackney Markets, Shop Fronts and Street Trading Team  

We welcome news stories, job vacancies and tender opportunities from our members for publication. If your market has some news to share, please email

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