Ballymena publican in running for UK High Street Hero Award

Stephen Reynolds, proprietor of The Front Page Bar in Ballymena has been shortlisted as a finalist in the High Street Hero category at this year's Great British High Street Awards.
Stephen Reynolds, proprietor of The Front Page Bar in Ballymena has been shortlisted as a finalist in the High Street Hero category at this year's Great British High Street Awards.

Well known as the man behind The Front Page Bar in Ballymena for the last 28 years, Stephen Reynolds has been shortlisted as a finalist in the High Street Hero category at this year’s Great British High Street awards.

Nominated by the Ballymena BID, Stephen fulfilled the criteria, as he has not just contributed to the BID but to the High Street and the wider Ballymena community.

The awards, run by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Visa, recognise and celebrate local achievements on the UK High Streets and support the communities in which we live and work. The awards are made up of entries from throughout the UK and this is the first year the awards have included Northern Ireland.

Stephen Reynolds is one of three people from Northern Ireland who have been shortlisted for the regional High Street Hero Award, a category highlighting exceptional individuals within the community who run great initiatives and programmes to improve the high street experience for all.

The highly respected Ballymena native, who is also Vice Chairman of the Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID), has provided a first-class customer experience for visitors to Ballymena for many years as part of his role as proprietor of the award winning Front Page Bar.

In addition, Stephen has been a member of many local voluntary organisations including the Board of Hospitality Ulster, Ballymena Retailers Against Crime (BRAC) and Ballymena Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen said, “I am delighted to have been both nominated and shortlisted for the High Street Hero award. It was an unexpected surprise but I’m proud to be representing my hometown of Ballymena. Having the opportunity to showcase our wonderful town, and showing people what a great retail destination and business community we have to offer, is something I’m very proud of. Being selected for the award is a great honour and a great privilege.”

Over his 35 years in business in Ballymena, 28 years of which have seen him focus on the bar trade, Stephen and the team at The Front Page Bar have given back to the local community by raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for various charities by way of various events and fundraising activities.

In more recent years Stephen and his wife Marie, ably assisted by ‘Team Front Page’ have established their, now annual, ‘Senior Citizens’ Excursion’ which sees people from the local area enjoy a day out to a Northern Ireland location.

Encouraging people to visit Ballymena Town Centre is something Stephen is passionate about and he has helped drive various initiatives to bring people together including, “Shutters Up” night, the Town Centre Christmas Market, the ‘Discount Day’, Giro D’Italia family fun day, Ballymena Historical Walking Tour and Ballymoney Street Motorcycle Fest.

Alison Moore, Ballymena BID Manager said: “I’m absolutely thrilled for Stephen and Ballymena. This is great recognition for him, Marie and the team at The Front Page Bar, in all that they do for the wider community. We’ll have our fingers crossed for the big event in London, but to be one of 12 finalists across the UK is fantastic.”

Stephen is also passionate about the development of young people, sponsoring two local football teams and creating a hugely beneficial ‘Student Hospitality Training Programme’ to equip students with the knowledge and experience required to find part-time work within the hospitality sector, whilst studying at University.

The winners of the High Street Hero awards will be announced at the Great British Awards ceremony in London, which takes place in November.