Knaresborough business group folds
Last updated Nov 27, 2023
Natalie Horner (red dress) and Annie Wilkinson-Gill with their partners. Pic: Knaresborough Business Collective

Knaresborough Business Collective, which was set up to encourage more people to visit the town, has folded.

The group, which was established in the wake of the vote not to create a Knaresborough Business Improvement District, announced the news on social media today.

Founders Natalie Horner and Annie Wilkinson-Gill said “the time has come to say enough is enough”.

The duo organised numerous initiatives for the town including Christmas trees for traders, a scarecrow festival and business awards.

Their decision followed the theft of 20 Christmas trees last week, which Ms Horner described as “absolutely sickening”. Her own printing business Sid Horner and Sons was burgled six days earlier.

It prompted numerous messages of support from people saying how grateful they were for all that the two women have done for the town.

Peter Lacey, from Knaresborough Chamber, thanked the group for all its “hard work for the town”.

The collective’s demise may reignite calls for another ballot on whether to establish a BID.

Ms Horner and Ms Wilkinson-Gill said on social media:

“This was not an easy decision, and one not taken lightly by either of us. We have powered through adversity, harassment, theft, abuse, criticism, vandalism, complaints, slander, all of which has crossed the line to personal attacks on our own businesses and characters.

“We did what we did because we love Knaresborough, it’s businesses, it’s community, it’s residents, but we could only handle so much when we are doing every part of it voluntarily. We have neglected our businesses, our families, our homes and our health, both mental and physical, and the time has come to say enough is enough.

“We have achieved so much over the last few years, and while we loved it, every single thing we have done has been met with some form of negativity or been destroyed. We both have strong shoulders and thick skin but it is too much for two people to take. We have six young children between us and five businesses. It feels as though what turned from people being grateful soon became what people just expected.”

The post said Ms Horner, who runs printing firm Sid Horner and Sons, had lost lost thousands of pounds by printing items for free and Ms Wilkinson-Gill had paid her own staff to work at events.

It added the two women will still do things for town on a personal level, including the Knaresborough Business Awards.

Knaresborough Business Awards

Knaresborough Business Awards. Pic Brian King

They will also spend funds accrued on CCTV cameras for traders “as our parting gifts for town”, with any money left being split between local charities.

The post concluded:

“Thank you to everybody who has helped us, thanked us, supported us and volunteered, we are so grateful and think Knaresborough really is the best place, not just all the wonderful businesses but the people who make it what it is.

“We are proud of what we have achieved in just a few years and hope if anything comes of this it is that everybody supports each other and their businesses.”

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