Brian is in the running for Woodley Town Centre Manager role

THE NEW manager of Woodley’s town centre had a good reason for missing Monday’s fun day: he was in Edinburgh running a marathon.

No mean feat for a man who could be sitting by the fireplace completing The Wokingham Paper’s puzzle page and generally taking it easy.

But this 60-year-old, who used to be the manager of Boots in Reading’s Oracle shopping centre wasn’t ready to retire and has just started his new role for the Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative.

Brian Fennelly, who lives in nearby Caversham, is excited about the job.

“I’ve been a manager of a town centre store for much of my career and this is a good opportunity to get involved. Woodley has lots of strengths and I wanted to be part of it.

“For me, involvement in the local community is a positive. The local community are important, and in Woodley they are engaged with the town centre.”

The Town Centre Management Initiative organises a host of events throughout the year, including the regular and special markets, the car boot sales, Monday’s fun day and, of course, the Winter Extravaganza, which will take place on Sunday, December 1. And Mr Fennelly is not looking to break a winning formula.

“I’m really excited about the Extravaganza. I’m really pleased to be part of it,” he said. “There will be continuity with what has gone before and I really hope to engage and encourage people from further afield to come along, it’s clearly a fantastic event.”

Coming up a little sooner is the first street party, which Woodley Town Council is organising for Saturday, July 6. Running from 4pm to 8pm, it will see Bracknell-based group Spriggan Mist give a concert. They will be joined by entertainers and dancers. Entry is free.

“This is a good way in which the Town Centre Management Initiative and the Town Council can work together,” Mr Fennelly said. “They’re great events and they’ll attract footfall.

“One of the challenges to town centres is the internet, so to be able to offer events like this, well, they are internet proof. The more events the better.

“Woodley also has a very strong market and it’s valued. It has a really good relationship between shops and stalls. They get on well and work well together, but they complement each other.”

Mr Fennelly is a member of Reading Roadrunners, so it’s no surprise that he has been in Scotland this weekend for the marathon – he completed the race in an impressive 4 hours 9 minutes and 47 seconds. He’s also competed in the Woodley 10k before.

“I’d never done Edinburgh before, I’ve not been there for a long time,” Mr Fennelly admitted. “I’d been in training for the past few months.”

For now, he’s hit the ground running and is looking forward to maintaining Woodley’s vibrant town centre. And that’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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