Stratford’s Strategic Partnership keeping accessibility for all in mind

Accessible Stratford was founded by former police officer Elizabeth Dixon in the late 1980s after she was injured on duty in a road traffic accident, and since then has been using a wheelchair to get around.

Her voluntary organisation advises Stratford business on how they can make their premises more accessible to people with a range of disabilities.

Elizabeth explains why her voice is so important to be included on the Stratford Strategic Partnership Group, a collaboration between local authorities and prominent stakeholder organisations which is helping to influence key projects to improve Stratford for residents and visitors alike:

“I’ve been helping businesses in Stratford improve their accessibility for those with additional needs for many years now, but the fact is there is always more to do.

“The businesses I speak to tend to be receptive to my advice, and most do implement the changes I suggest. Poor accessibility tends to come out of ignorance rather than malice.

“But a lot of the time, there are simple improvements that can be made to help people with disabilities for only a small cost.

“It’s very important, therefore, that Accessible Stratford is represented on the Strategic Partnership so that accessibility is always taken into account as we help to shape Stratford for the future.

“For example, the planned improvements to Bridge Street and High Street that are on the horizon originally looked at getting rid of all parking to encourage more walking and cycling.

“However, I suggested keeping some Blue Badge spaces, as users, with poor mobility, a sight impairment or hidden disability  need to park close to the shops they want to visit.

“While the plans have yet to go out to public consultation, I am hopeful that any planned changes will ensure those with disabilities will still be able to access Bridge Street and High Street easily, while also improving it for able-bodied people too.

“What is particularly pleasing about the Partnership is that my inclusion was not an afterthought – I was invited to join right away.

“I have been campaigning for a number of years now and many decision-makers in Stratford are aware of the work Accessible Stratford does, so to have a seat at the table right from the beginning and ensure that people with disabilities are represented shows my work is valued.

“The Partnership wants to work collaboratively to make Stratford as good as it can be in the future for all – including residents, visitors, workers and investors. All of these categories include people with a wide mix of additional needs, and in many towns, they are forgotten about.

“Not here. I am very happy for Accessible Stratford to be represented on the Partnership and I am looking forward to helping it shape Stratford in the right way for everyone. Access for All is important!

Bringing the impossible to Stratford Upon Avon with the #MagicofTheatre

“Magic is always impossible. That’s what makes it magic.” Experience the wonder of Kate Di Camillo’s The Magician’s Elephant on us!

It’s just what you’ve been waiting for. A darkened theatre. The expectant hum of excitement. The lights dim, the curtains open and the enchantment begins. Throughout the month of October, you can win TWO tickets to see The Magician’s Elephant, the beloved, prize-winning novel turned innovative and imaginative musical with our corporate partners, the Royal Shakespeare Company.  It’s a tale you won’t soon forget.

Baltese is recovering from a recent war, it’s a lonely place, where young Peter lives a harsh life. Then one day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky. The creature’s appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that it changes Baltese forever. Peter is catapulted into the quest of his life, overturning everything he ever thought he knew, and discovering that happiness can come from the most unexpected places.

This brand-new musical reminds us all that even the impossible can be possible when we open our eyes and hearts to those around us.

The Magician’s Elephant is adapted from Kate DiCamillo’s prize-winning novel, directed by Sarah Tipple (Associate Director The Boy in the Dress) and designed by Colin Richmond (Wendy & Peter Pan).

The Magician’s Elephant is playing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from October 14 2021 – 1 January 2022.

Watch The Magicians Elephant trailer.

Enter to win TWO tickets (plus a programme) to see this brand-new musical for all the family by entering our competition on Twitter, @BellCourtLife. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!  This competition is now closed.

Terms & Conditions apply.

Plastic Planet: Time For Change

We live on a Plastic Planet. With ubiquitous micro-plastics and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch covering 1.6 million square kilometres (that is three times the size of France) which is impacting on marine ecosystems and sea life, it seems that we do indeed live on a plastic planet. However, there is good news! We are now recycling more plastic than ever before, with new technology being developed to allow more efficient and wider plastic recovery; and many people are more mindful of minimising waste and choosing recyclable or reusable materials over single use plastic. But we can all do more! We are proud to be working with Escape Arts, alongside Stratford Climate Action and Stratford Friends of the Earth on an inspirational and powerful Climate Change Community Challenge for 2021. The message is that we can all change this Plastic Planet.

Plastic Planet brings together nine local schools plus community groups and businesses to promote positive action to help our environment, leading local action in preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. Embedded in this project are accessible environmental pledge programmes developed by Stratford Climate Action; small steps we can each take to make a difference.The project will bring together a series of talks, presentations and creative competitions, resulting in a digital legacy of work and resources to sustain action moving forward.

The project is also part of an international internship programme with Warwick University supporting international climate change work with Universities in the UK, Australia and Malaysia. Students from across the globe are also building on Stratford’s local Pledge for the Planet campaign to create educational resources to share at an online international event at the end of the July.

Plastic Planet – Time for change

Escape Arts is working with nine local schools and community groups to develop a high impact arts installation within the High Street shop windows of Debenhams here at Bell Court. The installation, led by local artist Ros Ingram explores how we can reuse materials by creating a spectacular giant landscape featuring some of Britain’s endangered animals made entirely from waste materials and household rubbish. The installation highlight show much of our everyday rubbish should be seen as a valuable resource and not simply thrown in the bin and destined for landfill. It illustrates how precious our wildlife is and how it is utterly connected to what we do as individuals.

Plastic Planet is on display now until after the COP26 Conference in November.

Celebrate the return of theatre with The Comedy of Errors

Fancy seeing The Comedy of Errors with a friend, on us? This summer, we’re giving you the chance to WIN big.

Theatre is back and we’re ready to escape into imagined worlds and enjoy standing ovations all summer. Think outdoor seating, sun beaming and legendary lines you’ll never forget. You can expect all that and more here in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre; the brand-new outdoor venue from our corporate partners Royal Shakespeare Company. The Garden Theatre is home to this summer’s production of The Comedy of Errors. To celebrate its arrival, we’ve teamed up with the RSC to give two lucky winners the chance to enjoy the show on us, plus a bundle of exciting prizes promised to make it an experience to remember.

With this highly-anticipated play already creating a buzz in town, here’s everything you need to know…

The Comedy of Errors performance
Photo credit: Pete Le May © RSC

The Comedy of Errors is believed to be one of Shakespeare’s earlier written plays; a comedy about separated family and mistaken identity.

A father ends up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes hasty proclamations about travel. A lonely son, while searching for his brother, loses himself. Across town a wife starts to realise her husband is not the man she thought he was (but rather likes it). Will anything ever be the same again?

Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, a fairy-tale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision, is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen (The Provoked Wife 2019The Hypocrite 2017)

“After a period in which The Comedy of Errors has been busy as a headline on the government, the RSC gloriously reclaims it for theatre.” – The Guardian

“It’s unsettling, complementary, weird and utterly absorbing: the icing on that tasty summer pudding.” – WhatsOnStage

Join the RSC for a joyous moment of reunion, celebration and laughter in the brand-new open-air Garden Theatre, on the banks of the Avon.

The Comedy of Errors is now playing in the Garden Theatre until 26 September, before the show sets out on tour later in the year.

Watch The Comedy of Errors trailer.

Contest is now closed.
Enter via our Instagram now @bellcourtstratford and you could win TWO tickets to this highly-acclaimed play, including a bespoke pre-performance experience consisting of enjoying some late afternoon music on the Bancroft Terrace, programme and drinks vouchers, plus an exclusive insight into the play through a talk with a member of the RSC creative team. And to top it all off, you’ll also enjoy a complimentary overnight stay at The Arden Hotel, including bed & breakfast, so you can enjoy the entire experience in style and comfort.

Terms & Conditions apply.

Photo credit: Pete Le May © RSC

Bell Court welcomes design-led store Design 44

Introducing the newest addition to Bell Court, Design 44 – a design-led lifestyle and handmade store. Design 44 source and select the very best UK and Scandinavian products which have been carefully chosen to inspire and transform you and your home. Supporting over 50 local designers and makers, this independent brand champions a large Eco and zero waste area in each of their stores.

Design 44 was opened in 2013 by Owner, Jade Devall. Jade’s passion to showcase independent local businesses has driven the shop to become one of the most successful independent shops in the Midlands.

Design 44 will be opening on Tuesday June 1st 2021, joining the other stores at Bell Court. In attendance for the grand opening will be Mayor Kevin Taylor. In celebration of the launch, the first 20 customers will each receive a free Design 44 tote bag, complete with an array of goodies.

Bell Court Centre Manager, Rich Jones, had the following to say about this new addition: “Design 44 join Bell Court at a time when we can all do with gifts and things that spark joy. Whether it’s something for a loved one, your home, or even yourself – we are confident that the range of design-led and eco-friendly products at Design 44 will have something for everyone. It is especially positive to see the growth of small businesses like this, in-spite of difficult times post-Covid. We are excited to support local and international designers and makers through this store and eagerly await their grand opening.”

Owner of Design 44, Jade Devall said: “We are really looking forward to having a store here at Stratford-upon-Avon. When we viewed the shop and the area, we knew straight away that our brand would be a perfect fit here at Bell Court. It has a great mix of shops and restaurants and the buzz and energy here really stood out to us, so of course we can’t wait to open our independent lifestyle store here. It will be full to the brim with design-led and handmade gifts from over 50 local and UK small makers and brands. We also will be featuring our Scandinavian and Eco brands in this store, and an area dedicated to house plants.”

From June 1st, Design 44 will be open for business at the following times:

  • Mon – Fri 10am – 5.30pm
  • Sat 9.30am – 5.30pm
  • Sun 10.30am – 4.30pm