Woodley’s town centre manager prepares to retire after 11 years in the role

Praise for one of the best-known faces in the town

HE HAS been at the centre of life in Woodley for the past 11 years.

Now, Jacques Lherbier is preparing for a somewhat quieter role.

The man who has been at the heart of everything from the Christmas Extravaganza to bringing top retail names to Woodley, is stepping down as Town Centre Manager.

Since taking up the post in 2008, the Frenchman has become one of the best-known faces around Woodley.

And he says he is delighted that the town is now firmly established as one of the leading shopping experiences in Berkshire.

“I will miss just walking around meeting and chatting with retailers, shop owners and shoppers,” he said.

“I will also miss the great team I work with. I have enjoyed my time as Town Centre Manager and will miss it but it is time to move on.”

Jacques left Paris for London in the 1970s to pursue a career in hospitality and franchising with the café and baking organisation Delice de France.

When he took up the post, he said his aim was to make Woodley “a really exciting shopping experience where everybody will say this is a really exciting place to go to”.

“I had lived here for 13 years and knew it well,” he added.

“There was a great core range of business, but I knew it could be even better.

“I wanted to put Woodley on the map.

“I started with a website as we didn’t have one back then. There has always been a great community spirit and with a lot of hard work, and a top committee, we were able to build on what was already here.

“One thing I wanted to achieve was to broaden the night time economy so we could compete with the likes of Wokingham and Reading. I was also keen to bring in big names like Lidl.

“They opened close to the town centre which was unusual as they were more often to be found on the outskirts of towns and cities.”

Jacques said he had no immediate plans for his retirement but planned to remain in the area.

Cllr Keith Baker, leader of Woodley Town Council praised Jacques for his decade of service to the town.

“Jacques has contributed greatly to the ongoing improvements to the town centre.

“We will certainly miss him. It is difficult to pick out one thing as his best achievement as that would detract from all the others.”

Cllr Baker added: “We now look forward to a new chapter to further develop the town.”

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Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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