Spalding’s singing Major has been entertaining the crowds at community events in the area all summer, but the high note of his year has just arrived – becoming the newly-appointed town centre manager.
Ex-Army Major Dennis Hannant (43), of Billingborough, takes up the post in November - at which point it is hoped he will use military precision to unite local traders and encourage more people to visit Spalding.
He said: “I have no doubt that the job will be challenging, but there is so much potential in Spalding – and this is what really attracted me to the job. Throughout my military career I have learnt that hard work produces the results and I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty.”
His previous experience includes working as the military project officer for the ‘Festival for Heroes’ 2012 event in Grantham, and helping a local events company to organise civilian traders and military displays and an outdoor evening concert, which included two X Factor stars and local bands, as well as performing himself.
He was awarded the MBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for his work with the Army Reserves and charities.
Phil Scarlett, president of the Spalding and District Area Chamber of Commerce, said: “From the beginning, Dennis demonstrated a good understanding of the town and the challenges we face. He showed a determination and enthusiasm to deliver events and activities that will invigorate the town centre. His military background will provide essential planning and organisational skills for what is going to be a demanding and challenging role.”
South Holland District Council Cabinet agreed to award £120,000 from the Springfields Section 106 Spalding Marketing to finance part of the cost of a town centre manager and create an annual project fund for a three-year period. The appointment has been made after two previous unsuccessful bids to fill the post. The Chamber of Commerce will now establish a management board of funders and businesses, which is being formed to support Dennis.
Simon Beardsley, chief cxecutive of Lincolnshire Chamber, added: “This project illustrates the role of a Chamber of Commerce in bringing together partners and funders to deliver a project that was originally conceived and developed by local members. We look forward to Dennis starting so that in time, he, and the project, can make a real difference to Spalding.”
Coun Howard Johnson, SHDC portfolio holder for property, community and member services, said: “Council members will continue to work with Lincolnshire Chamber’s Spalding and District Area Chamber Council and the Town Centre Management Board to support the new post and ensure Spalding remains a vibrant centre for retailers, residents and visitors.”