I Am Beeston – Stuart Baird – PR Guru
“I was brought up in West Yorkshire and met my wife at university. She had moved to Wollaton at age 10, when her family relocated to Nottingham from East Yorkshire, so she knew the area well. After we got married, I was working up in Manchester, but we always had our eye on Beeston, as we wanted a house where we could to walk into a town, to pubs and restaurants, get into Nottingham easily and had a real community feel. It ticked all the boxes. My job also meant I had to go to London a lot, so the rail link was perfect.
Even when we were first looking at houses, I got a good feeling about the place. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but it feels ‘grounded’. It is genuinely one of the best places to live in the UK. We have some fantastic schools locally, and those who work there are so committed to providing the best they can for the children and the students. We have more than our fair share of great places to eat, not least the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the country and the pubs are not half bad as well. I have mates from the four corners of Nottingham, and when I invite them for night out, they all say, “why can’t we have all this stuff you’ve got in Beeston?”
And if I need to escape back up north to breathe Yorkshire air, visit family and go to the football, I’m 5mins from the M1.
People from Yorkshire (and I am one of them) always think that is the friendliest place, but I know how it works up there – unless you’re one of their own, they’ll only accept you after maybe the first 30 years! We have always felt at home in Beeston. We have some incredibly intelligent, talented and creative people, but there is a sense of bonhomie, of community. Regardless of who you are, or what your background is, you will be accepted. We are blessed with living on a great street, our next-door neighbour showed us pictures of her at a street party on Enfield Street as girl during VE Day 1945 when we had the celebrations last year. She was in the same class as Paul Smith. When we had last year’s street party, everyone walked up and down the street, chatting to each other (from a safe distance). It was the one highlight of the lockdown for me. It was amazing.
When my children were at College House (now The Lanes), the headteacher asked us for help with the (Civic Society) Richard Beckinsale blue plaque launch as at that point I was doing PR for the NHS and was used to running events. Before I knew it, Kate Beckinsale was flying in with her Hollywood director husband, alongside her ex-husband Michael Sheen and best friend David Walliams, and of course her mum and friends of Richard. We had a bit of media circus which was good fun. The highpoint was when about 200 kids, who didn’t have a clue who all these people were, spotted David Walliams and charged towards a fence, screaming like Beatles fans, to get to him!
Recently my agency helped launch the Arc Cinema and new square which was a real privilege. Shane Meadows did a brilliant job and was so gracious with his time. Broxtowe Borough Council really need to get credit for their work on the new square. I remember the horrible car park and public toilets that used to stand there.
We have made lifelong friends here, we have wonderful neighbours with beautiful spaces on our doorstep, our children have grown up safe and happy, what more can you want? You hear about places in London and other cities that become gentrified and price local people out. I hope it keeps grounded, while still being inspirational and a lovely place to be.”