Nottingham’s Victoria Centre is preparing to celebrate its 50th birthday next year and the search has begun to find the stars of its big birthday advertising campaign.
Since opening its doors in 1972, the centre has welcomed millions of shoppers, employed thousands of people and has been home to hundreds of the biggest high-street brands.
And, it’s people’s memories of visiting and working at Victoria Centre that are set to take centre stage in 2022 as Nigel Wheatley, centre director at Victoria Centre, explains:
“Next year is going to be one big celebration and it’s so important to us that Nottingham and the people who live and work here are at the heart of it.
“It became very clear when we started planning our 50th birthday just how many fond memories people have of the centre – whether it be visiting the pick and mix in Woolworths with their grandparents, eating at the Food Court, spotting Jerry the fish in his tank or getting their first ever job at Boots.
“We’re planning a big celebration and we want it to feature real people and real memories. Those chosen to take part will be treated to a style and pamper session at John Lewis & Partners and afternoon tea at Ori Caffe, as well as a special thank you gift from us. They’ll then be whisked off to a local photography studio – but what happens next is a secret for now.
“We can’t wait to start hearing those memories that have been made in the centre and sharing stories with everyone in what will be a very special year for us.”
For a chance to star in the 50th birthday advertising campaign, you need to share your memories of Victoria Centre from the past five decades in no more than 250 words by either commenting on the relevant Facebook and Instagra
Those already sharing their memories include Gabriel and Jess who met while working at John Lewis & Partners.
“Jess and I met back in September 2015, while working in separate departments at John Lewis & Partners,” said Gabriel. “We’re both originally from opposite ends of the city, but our love for working with people and bringing to life shopping experiences brought us together – literally under one roof.
“Collectively, we’ve worked there for 15 years as sales assistants, and in that time, we’ve learnt so much about ourselves, the role and the people we work with.
“Although we’ve not had any shifts together for a couple of years, since bringing our little daughter Florence into the world, we still feel very connected to one another and grateful for our lives here in Nottingham.
“In fact, we’re expecting another baby girl in January. Who’d have thought you could find the job you love and the person you love in one go?”
Jeremy Massarella opened Caffe Rizzoli in the centre back in November 2016 but his links to Victoria Centre go back way further than that:
“Catering is in my blood. Back in the 60s, my dad Ronnie Massarella owned a family ice cream business which started out on the roads delivering delicious treats to local families in Nottingham. After realising just how popular the frozen desserts were here in the city, he took the plunge to open a shop in the brand new Victoria Centre – this was the first shop that kick-started the family catering business.
“Dad’s shop, which I worked at for most of my early adult life, officially opened in the 70s and was the first shop you’d see when walking through the bus station doors. Although we may have moved from our original position, from the 70s right through to the 90s, we were a part of the framework of the centre.
“I now own Café Rizzoli, located on the bustling North Square. This feels like home, and even though I’m originally a Yorkshire born and bred lad, I feel such a strong connection to Nottingham.
“I think Dad would be proud that we’ve kept the family’s working roots here and I really feel we’ve come full circle since those early days. I see the centre as the gateway of the city; people head here every day before work or on their lunch breaks, and I’ve seen many loyal locals pass-through in my time, no matter what’s changed in the surrounding city. It’s a unique place and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
“The advertising campaign is just one element of our 50th year. Expect lots of surprises, some big smiles and plenty of fun as we aim to create even more memories in what is set to be an excited 12-months for Victoria Centre.”