THE man who has taken over at Tamworth’s Ankerside Shopping Centre has pledged to keep it at the heart of the community.
Jeff Wigley, newly appointed manager at the centre, is also an active member of the local business community, including sitting on the Destination Tamworth board.
He says the mix of stores and businesses is integral to the success of Tamworth as a shopping venue, as well as the people who make it the town it is.
Jeff said: “I’m hoping to build on our footfall and continue to work with various groups and associations to make sure Tamworth becomes a thriving, appealing destination for shoppers from near and far.
“It’s about encouraging people into the town, as well as the centre, as we see ourselves as very much at the heart of the community – we work as a team to get as many visitors as we can to the area.
“We have strong links with the local council, tourism bodies and business improvement schemes and those links are only going to get stronger in the future.”
Jeff has been at the centre since 1982 – soon after it opened – first as an electrical engineer and then moving his way up the ranks to deputy manager.
Over the years he has seen huge changes, hosted royal visits and become an integral member of the community both within and around the centre.
“A lot has changed and the centre has grown enormously and my role has developed accordingly,” said Jeff, who lives in Wilnecote with wife Gill.
It’s been a natural progression, I became the deputy manager during the major refurbishment and extension of Ankerside which started in 1990 and was completed in 1992 and I’ve always enjoyed the variety of what the job entails.
“The day to day running of the centre and spending time with members of the public and all our tenants is what keeps it interesting.
“The Queen opened the Centre in 1980, which was just before I started at Ankerside, I have however had the pleasure of being here when Prince Charles and Camilla came for the rebadging ceremony of the Mercian Regiment in 2007, and we’ve hosted Princess Anne on a number of occasions.
“The Olympic torch came through in 2012 and we’ve had a fair few footballers and soap stars in as well,” added Jeff, who enjoys being with his grown up family and grandchildren, as well as fishing and gardening in his spare time.
With Ankerside he has always been heavily involved in the annual fundraising efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support, something he plans to continue doing in his new role, as well as Christmas gift collections for local charities, which are always well supported by shoppers.
“The huge amount of toys and gifts which are donated for local good causes at Christmas is brilliant,” said Jeff, a keen Aston Villa Fan as well as supporting local team Tamworth FC.
“It says a lot about the people of Tamworth – we’re a close knit community and look after each other.”
When Jeff is not at the Ankerside, he is likely to be found either working on his ongoing project – the restoration of his beloved classic Mini – or coarse fishing on the local River Anker.
Well done Jeff from Tamworth Informed!
Ankerside, which is off George Street in Tamworth’s town centre, is next door to the beautiful grounds of the historic Norman Castle, at the confluence of the rivers Tame and Anker. It was opened by the Queen in 1980 and extended in 1992. Open daily, it is now home to 60 stores, from fashion, health and beauty to services and food and drink, and has more than 700 parking spaces. More details of what’s on at ankerside.co.uk or at facebook.com/ankersidetamworth