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2023 in Review: A Year of Transformation: Celebrating Dorking BID's Successes

30 December 2023

As the year draws to a close, join us as we reflect on the remarkable journey we've had as a community, bringing together our BID partners to enhance our town's vibrancy and foster prosperity in Dorking. The past year has been marked by significant achievements, collaborative efforts, events like the brilliant Very Dorkensian Christmas Festival, and a shared commitment to building a stronger, more connected Dorking community. Join us as we celebrate the highlights of 2023 and look forward to an even brighter future for our town.

Thank you to our businesses, our board, our community partners, our team and Dorking!

Here's to a prosperous 2024 - let's look back at 2023:

  1. Empowering Businesses:

Our primary mission has always been to support local businesses, and this year was no exception. Through targeted initiatives like our LoyalFree trails, networking workshops, and creative and collaborative campaigns, we provided invaluable support to our local entrepreneurs. By offering bespoke assistance, we enabled our resilient businesses to adapt, grow, and thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace.

  • We featured our businesses in gift guides,
  • hosted highly attended events, and
  • featured them in over 30 pieces of earned media with The Times, BBC Radio, and Surrey Hills Radio.
  • Our town was featured in the press more in the past nine months than in the previous five year BID term.

When communities support local businesses, they empower and support us. We hear time and again that when we as citizens spend £1 in a local shop that 63p stays in the local economy, but it is true. Local businesses or SMEs inject £2 trillion in turnover to UK economy, employing 44% of the British workforce. They not only are the heartbeat of our communities but without them, what would be left on our high streets? Dorking businesses have donated countless hours and services to our town, so let's hear it for them. We empower them, but they empower us too. This BID truly operates as a team and it is this spirit of togetherness that differentiates Dorking from other places.

  1. Community Partnerships:

Our success lies in the partnerships we've cultivated within our community. In 2023, we strengthened existing relationships and forged new alliances with community partners, churches, schools, local organisations, and government entities. These collaborations empowered us to address shared challenges and seize opportunities for collective growth, ensuring a more resilient and united community.

  • We hosted the successful DorKing Coronation event in May, for which we were shortlisted for an Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) ‘Best Social and Community Contribution Scheme’.
  • The event drew over 5,000 attendees and significant support from the community, to include:
  • over 40 community vendors, musical acts and entertainers,
  • 12 radio interviews,
  • three media placements at railway stations and
  • 4,700 downloads of our e-zine, 8,800 impressions and 125,000 link impressions and one letter of congratulations from the Royal Household.

Where would we be without our amazing volunteers?

We hosted two street clean ups and were joined by residents, businesses, corporations, churches, and nonprofits - all who, for the love of Dorking, tidied up our streets. We are grateful for their support and for the support of our local government partners for their support.

Our Christmas Festival drew 10,020 people to the town on the day. In addition to a focus on shopping locally, the celebrations extended beyond twinkling lights, with live music, festive stalls, sustainable shops, children’s activities, food and fare – our team also celebrated the town’s pride in place with the Community Spirit Awards. Hosted by BBC's Deputy Director, we also received BBC's story of the day and The Times Photo of the Day.

  1. Inward Investment in the BID and the town:

Our efforts to raise footfall and enhance the town's appeal saw remarkable success this year. Creative events, engaging promotions, and strategic marketing campaigns attracted visitors to the town. By transforming our town into a destination, we not only supported local businesses but also created a welcoming atmosphere that encouraged people to explore and invest in our community. We experienced new and exciting businesses opening in town, to include the Heartwood Collection investment in The White Horse, opening in February 2024.

The BID has also experienced growth in voluntary levy payers. Eight new levy payers have joined the BID since February and two new BID Board Directors have joined the Board, diversifying the team and adding new ideas and value to the organisation.

  1. Building Lasting Partnerships:

We believe in the power of collaboration, and this year saw the formation of strategic partnerships that will have a lasting impact. Our BID Manager attended the BID Foundation Annual Meeting as well as the ATCM Summer School session with the BID Chairman. By connecting with and working closely with neighbouring districts, industry associations, and regional development bodies, we've laid the foundation for future growth. The BID Manager is meeting with the Surrey contingent of the BID Foundation managers to build further partnerships to collaborate and share best practices in ensure our BID continues to generate cost savings and collaborates across Surrey. In addition to working with BIDs, our BID is working with Surrey Police, other towns in Surrey, and government bodies to ensure our BID is working effectively to keep Dorking safe. We work closely with our policing team and are developing a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) to this end. We also collaborate with our local government partners, our community partners, nonprofits, our residents and schools. These partnerships open up exciting possibilities for shared resources, knowledge exchange, and mutually beneficial endeavours.

  1. Raising Awareness:

One of our key objectives was to elevate awareness of our town's unique offerings. Through targeted marketing, social media campaigns, digital transformation, placemaking, and community events, we continue to work to successfully position our town as a vibrant and attractive destination. By telling our story and showcasing the diversity of our businesses, we've captured the attention of new visitors and investors alike.

Check out our results

Dorking Results

Farewell 2023 - Welcome 2024

As we bid farewell to 2023, we do so with a deep sense of pride and gratitude. The accomplishments of the past year are a testament to the dedication of our local businesses, the support of our community partners, and the resilience of our town. Looking ahead, we remain committed to the continuous improvement of our Dorking business improvement district, fostering collaboration, and creating an environment where businesses and the community can thrive together.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey. As we step into the new year, let's keep up our momentum, embracing the opportunities that lie ahead and building on the foundation of success we've created together.

Please keep tagging us at @hellodorking so we can share your story. We have exciting plans for next year and welcome your thoughts and ideas as always.

Photo Credit: @Photography_Possibilities


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Dorking Town Partnership
156 South Street
Dorking, RH4 2HF

T: 07377 0966892

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