IT'S now just over six months since Leominster picked up a gold award for its use of social media in the 2016 Great British High Street competition.

The county’s biggest market town was named runner-up in the competition’s ‘rising star’ category – an impressive achievement itself considering it was the first time it had entered – but was particularly recognised for its use of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote the town.

Then, in March this year, Leominster was named one of the ‘best places to live’ in the Midlands, alongside Ledbury, by the Sunday Times.

It has been a hugely positive year for the town which has often had to fight hard against preconceived opinions – and the future is looking bright.

Gaynor Lewin, chairman of Leominster Business Group, said: "We haven't yet decided whether we'll enter the GB High Street competition again as we're waiting to see what categories are published.

"But I think it's made a huge difference. The social media package has made a massive difference and pulled businesses and the community together and businesses are far more proactive and customers are now involved.

"That's ongoing and continues to grow and customers are loving the connection. It's nice to have a platform for the town so people know what's on offer."

Although under no illusion about the cost, she said the group would continue to look for ways to enhance a customer's experience when shopping in Leominster, including Wifi.

Unlike Ledbury – close to the M50 and long-heralded as one of the most charming towns in the region – Leominster has had more of a challenge to raise its profile.

However, having always had a strong sense of community, the business group's efforts are being felt by both business owners and residents who are benefiting from the new 'buzz' around the town.

Gaynor added: "I think the sense of community is strong in Leominster.

"I think it's a very real town and that's nice as it's totally unspoilt. What makes it so unique is having so many independent shops. I'm sure we must be of of the largest towns in the UK for the number of independents."

Going forward, there'll be more social media campaigns as well as another celebration on Small Business Saturday in December – when businesses will all make a contribution to make parking free in town all day.

The group will make a decision on whether to enter the GB High Street competition at a later date.