The Facebook group Beeston Updated was born in turbulent times for our town. Initially conceived as a place to discuss the future of Beeston and how that might look like once the construction of the tram was complete, it was a far cry from what it is now.

You need to cast your mind back to what it was like back then. Beeston was overrun with construction and many, many people were disillusioned with the tram project. Their voices were often heard online and whilst they were quite right that the disruption was intolerable at times, the constant drone of negativity on social media was beginning to paint such a terrible picture of Beeston and really damaging our brand.

I was born and bred in Beeston and it was saddening to see so many people talking it down all the time: who knows what outsiders thought reading such comments.

At the time I became close to Kirstie and Steven who also felt the same way, and between us we decided to launch Beeston Updated as a platform to showcase the positive aspects of the change thrust upon our town.

So whilst I may be the one that pushed the button to create the page, it was certainly a team effort. Matt (Turpin, aka Lord Beestonia) joined shortly after and we all set about promoting all the positive aspects of change and tried to promote Beeston at every opportunity.

In the early days the page served its intended purpose: there were town plans and photographs of what new buildings might look like, all around the tramlines.

But as time progressed more and more people joined and the group became increasingly diverse. It wasn’t long before chat around developments transformed into chat around anything to do with Beeston: it was mutating into an all-round community group.

Of course, we embraced this as there was nothing like this available elsewhere at the time. Local newspapers were dying back as everything became digital, and there was a real need for a place Beestonians could use to find out what was happening around them, and openly discuss anything of a local nature. We let the original purpose fade away and watched on as the people of Beeston came together online. It was great to see, and over time it became a fantastic resource for us all.

It’s stunning to see that there are now 26,000 members of that group. We had no idea at the outset how popular it would become. I would say all of the founding members are immensely proud of Beeston Updated, and what it provides for all its members. I personally no longer live in Beeston but still use the page to keep in touch with local issues, and keep myself connected to my spiritual home. I’m guessing many others do too.

It does make me smile from time to time that people still go on and on about public toilets /shoe shops. After many years, some things never change .

Jon Speed, Founder, Beeston Updated.