Aspirations for positive change
“I am an islander born and bred. I grew up in Rookley but my family hails from Ryde going back a couple of generations. I lived on the island until my 20s and I have really good memories of growing up here.
“But like lots of people, I decided I wanted to see a bit more of life and ended up in Nottingham for 20 years.
“I came back in 2017 and decided to settle in Ryde, partly because of the transport links and because I really like the history of the place.
“My mum grew up in Ryde and my grandparents owned a gents outfitters shop called Kervills, on the upper part of the High Street where Kevars café is now – I would love to find a photo of it one day.
“My grandparents retired when I was two but they were really involved in the community. My Grandfather was Life president of the Ryde carnival Association and at one point, captain of the Ryde Buccaneers.
“It was my happy childhood memories that brought me back to Ryde. When I came back, I started as a trustee of Aspire, the community hub based at Trinity Buildings in Dover Street and in 2019 I became CEO.
“As a charity we didn’t want our high street shop to be just a retail outlet and we have created a community element too. We encourage people to pop in for a chat and on the upper floor we run group activities.
“When we are not under restrictions from the pandemic, we run a sewing group and a reminiscence group and an arts and crafts group. It’s great to see people coming together to be creative and they also benefit from the social side too.
“I would welcome anything that brings a little life back into the High Street. It is never going to be what it was in terms of nationally recognised chains. We have to accept that shopping has changed forever and the pandemic has hastened its demise even further.
“We need to find different ways of using the empty shops, to make them more social places where people can meet for a coffee and a chat.
“It would be good to promote more people living above the shops – and we are looking at promoting a supported living opportunity on the upper floors above our shop. We would be helping people with mental health issues to get back on their feet.
“If there were more people making their homes in and around the High Street, it would encourage more businesses to come into the area.
“By encouraging more housing to be created in the High Street area we have a real opportunity to bring it back to life and make it a place where you will find open air street cafes and entertainment.
“Twenty years ago every high street looked the same, the Ryde Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project means we have the opportunity to create something unique, building on the heritage of the area and making it work for the current generation.”