The Beacon’s very own boss, Bill Plumridge, scooped the hugely-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award at the prestigious annual More Radio Awards Night earlier this month (November).
Bill was recognised for the crucial role he has played in steering the town through nearly three decades of continued retail growth. And as a former President and director of the Eastbourne & District Chamber of Commerce, Bill sat at the very heart of the all-important fusion between leisure and business.
The shopping centre manager is now relishing the next challenge of overseeing the opening of the new centre extension at the end of this month, and the complete re-branding from Arndale to The Beacon.
But it is the charitable elements that Bill introduced at the centre that has helped cement his stature for this Lifetime Achievement Award. Not only has he always sought to help local community projects that appeal for support, but he has dedicated time and effort to raising significant funds for nearly 50 different charities each year through the Win A Car competition.
Started back in 2000, Win A car takes centre stage in the shopping centre and allows charities to sell raffle tickets and retain every penny raised on their particular day. The competition has raised an incredible £328,000 for charities.
Bill said: “When I look back over the years, I feel a certain pride in the Centre’s achievements. We’ve worked hard on the retail mix to ensure the people of Eastbourne have access to contemporary shops; I have strengthened links between the Centre and the hugely important business community; and I have loved being able to support so many local charities. I genuinely think I have the best job going!”
And although Bill has now run the Centre for 28 years, retirement is not a word that pops into anybody’s mind. “I think my most exciting challenge is about to happen. We have the new £85m extension opening at the end of this month (November), a host of new stores to introduce to the town, and the name-change to The Beacon.”
“With all these changes about to happen, I would be mad to call it a day and walk off into the sunset,” Bill explained. “I am here to stay for a few more years yet!”
His stalwart work over the decades for the benefit of the town has won praise from all quarters. Christina Ewbank, Chief Executive of the Eastbourne & District Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bill has been a significant figure in the Eastbourne business community for over two decades. His experience will be crucial to the regeneration of Eastbourne town centre as the fantastic extension starts to take shape. The Chamber has also gained great strength from having Bill as a Director and Past President. On behalf of everyone, I would like to congratulate him for his well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Andrew Rice, Fund Manager at Legal & General, said: “Bill’s contribution to the Arndale Centre has been invaluable. To have someone with his experience and knowledge of Eastbourne makes a huge difference to the Legal & General team.”
Married to Carol for nearly 40 years, Bill is a grandfather of two so when he is not at the Centre, or playing a round of golf, he can be found spending time with young Isabel and James.