Awards shine a light on ‘shop local’ gift cards

The media group behind a Hertfordshire awards ceremony is encouraging organisations to look local for rewards, incentives and prizes

Unsung heroes were celebrated at a recent Hertfordshire awards ceremony with winners receiving a gift card that positively benefits the community. The media group behind the awards is encouraging organisations to look local for rewards, incentives and prizes

Bishop’s Stortford Independent, part of Iliffe Media Group, is leading the way by using its local gift card in its community awards ceremony, and is encouraging other organisations to consider how they can take a local first approach.

The Indies Community Awards is an annual awards ceremony celebrating unsung heroes from Bishop’s Stortford. 14 individual winners and one group winner each received a £100 Discover Stortford Gift Card in their winners’ goodie bags at the event held at the Bishop’s Stortford Rugby Club on the 26th January 2024.

Introduced by Bishop’s Stortford BID in 2021, the Discover Stortford Gift Card is a multi-store gift card that can be used in 40 businesses of all types and sizes including shops, restaurants, salons and more in the Hertfordshire town, encouraging people to spend locally. The BID is a sponsor of the Indies Community Awards.

Editor of the Bishop’s Stortford Independent, Paul Winspear, said using the town’s local gift card aligns with their values as a newspaper and offers choice for prize winners.

“Our Indies Community Awards winners ranged from 7 to 89 years of age. Trying to find one prize that suits all parties is difficult but our local gift card has something for everyone. Take Jacob Taylor, our 7 year old winner, who has spent most of his life in isolation and is only now able to go to restaurants. He’ll be able to go for a meal with his family, go to The Entertainer toy shop or to Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe with his gift card. I was really impressed with the choice on the card for all ages and interests.

“As a local newspaper, we’re all about local and a champion of the town, and this flows through to the prizes that we choose. It would have sat oddly if we, a local newspaper, chose an online gift card as a prize. This support for local extends to other areas too. A local florist who came highly commended in our young business category now provides the flowers for the event each year.

“For organisations, I think it’s in their interest to look to the local community for a solution for prizes, rewards and incentives across many use cases. It helps the organisation to create a meaningful relationship with their community and be perceived as an authentic, credible supporter of their town or city. At a community level, choosing your local gift card is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you look to your community for a solution to your gifting needs? For us, it has been positive, and we’re very happy to continue to choose local.”

Madeleine Lees, marketing and communications manager at Bishop’s Stortford BID said: “When we introduced the Discover Stortford Gift Card, we saw it as an asset for the whole community. As well as encouraging spending in Bishop’s Stortford, and in turn helping the local economy, it is the ideal gift, prize and reward. Use of the gift card in the Indies Community Awards showcases how versatile it is for organisations. It offers choice, flexibility and support for local all in one. We hope other local businesses and groups consider how they might use the Discover Stortford Gift Card.”

The Discover Stortford Gift Card is part of the multi award winning Town & City Gift Card program active across the UK and Ireland from fintech Miconex.

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said support for local from organisations continues to build:

“Bishop’s Stortford Independent and Iliffe Media Group are leading the way by showcasing an innovative use of local gift cards by a media company, offering choice and making a tangible impact on the local community too. In our 2023 research, 94% of organisations said supporting local was important when planning rewards and incentives, and with Town & City Gift Card programs all across the UK and Ireland, finding an option that suits recipients and benefits the community is easier than ever.”

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