Balloons go up as city flies flag for its top attractions
SPORTING stars helped to turn the sky over Nottingham purple to mark the launch of a scheme designed to celebrate the best nights out in the country.
Local Olympic and Paralympic heroes Helen Richardson and Richard Whitehead teamed up with children from Blue Bell Hill Primary School in St Ann's to release 250 purple balloons in Trinity Square on Friday, to mark the start of Purple Flag Week.
The week celebrates towns and cities that have Purple Flag status – an accreditation awarded by the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) recognising destinations that offer a varied, safe and clean night out.
Nottingham was invited to host the launch after holding the first Purple Flag Week in 2011, a concept that was such a success that the ATCM invited other places to follow the city's lead. A programme of events, including night-time markets, festivals and concerts, will be held across the country until September 30.
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After the balloon launch, which had prizes for venues in Nottingham and trips to other Purple Flag destinations attached to them, guests attended a reception at the Council House.
Guests included Richardson, Olympic bronze medal-winning vice-captain of Team GB women's hockey team, and Whitehead, who won gold in the 200m T42 final at the Paralympics.
We Are Nottingham Leisure, the Business Improvement District for licensed premises in the city centre, was behind the event. Chairman David Lucas said: "What a great way this was to kick-start a national celebration. As a city, we should be incredibly proud that we are helping to influence things on a national level and are considered to be setting the benchmark."
Philip Kolvin, chairman of the Purple Flag Board, said: "This week will showcase the best that our towns and cities have to offer and the important role that the evening economy plays in our local communities.
"I hope that through the celebrations, many more towns and cities will be motivated to join the 31 Purple Flag holders."