There are many attributes that combine to give a town its identity.
For some it could be a rich history for which it has become synonymous, for others it might be its distinctive architecture or perhaps an industry in which it excels.
When it comes to Cheltenham, it is a little bit of all of the above – and a good deal more.
When I established my own practice in Shrewsbury more than 20 years ago it was always with the aspirations to one day expand beyond our Shropshire heartland. Cheltenham was on the radar for a number of years and when the time was right to open our second office in 2019, it just felt like the natural choice.
First and foremost, there are some clear synergies between Shrewsbury and Cheltenham that make it such an attractive proposition for a business like ours that aspires to work with successful individuals and families.
Agriculture and farming have long been an important staple of the local economy for both towns but they have both evolved to become increasingly dynamic hotbeds for a wide range of exciting businesses, from tech and e-commerce to the full plethora of creative industries – with plenty in between.
Both towns are well connected into larger cities but are thriving hubs of activity in their own right, with Cheltenham acting as a natural gateway into all that is wonderful about the beautiful Cotswolds.
Both Shrewsbury and Cheltenham are also blessed with a host of excellent state and independent schools, indeed some of the best performing in the country, providing a fantastic local education service but also a real lure for those looking to relocate.
From a business perspective, Cheltenham is also within striking distance of St. James’s Place’s HQ in Cirencester and home to many of its senior team. It’s hard to think of a town with a richer pool of talent and experience to interact with and support our delivery of an exceptional service to our clients.
But for all these exciting characteristics, there is something more about Cheltenham that is slightly more difficult to define – an energy and a vibe that is infectious.
It is from this energy that has seen the Cheltenham Festivals emerge over recent years to establish the town as a town right at the heart of the UK’s arts scene with a jazz and science festival to partner the literature and music festivals that were first established after the Second World War.
Make no mistake, these are wonderful events that over the years have attracted some of the biggest names on the planet, from ex-Presidents to multi-million selling authors, and I was delighted this year to get behind the festivals by becoming a patron.
These festivals have always led the way in terms of content and innovation and with the recent Covid crisis, the organisers have had to pull out all the stops for the forthcoming Literature Festival in October but what a job they have done in creating a hybrid physical and virtual festival which again looks like it will be absolutely world-class.
This year for the first time Penney Financial Partners will be supporting the festival and we are delighted that we will be sponsoring an event at the wonderful Everyman Theatre where the bestselling author and explorer Ben Fogle will be discussing his new book Inspire: Life Lessons from the Wilderness.
There are a huge number of events at this year’s festival but we felt the subject matter of Ben’s new book really talked to a subject that means so much to us at Penney Financial Partners – the concept of inspiration and where we find it.
Amongst other things Ben has climbed Everest, rowed the Atlantic, re-enacted the race to the South Pole between Scott and Amundsen, swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco and completed the six-day Marathon des Sables. I’m sure you’ll agree that the opportunity to listen at first hand from someone who has achieved all that will be pretty inspiring in its own right!
If you’ve never visited one of the Cheltenham festivals, I would highly recommend it and this year’s Literature Festival looks like it could be one of the best. As well as offering a great insight into the world of literature, it will also help you understand why Cheltenham is such a great place to be.