Send your news, photos and videos by texting bucksfreepress to 80360 or email
End of an era as Chilterns centre manager in High Wycombe retires
A SHOPPING centre manager who has seen the face of High Wycombe change dramatically over the last 25 years has retired.
Bill Pollard started at the Chilterns Shopping Centre in High Wycombe in 1987- the year it opened- originally as a security manager but within a few months became the centre manager.
He retired on Friday from the centre and had a farewell bash at the Liberal Club on Thursday with 90 guests.
When he started, the centre had shops such as Marks and Spencers and C&A. Today the centre's anchor stores are Primark and Wilkinsons.
Mr Pollard, who is well known for dressing up as the centre's Father Christmas, said the centre was 'buzzing' when he began in the role.
He said: "It was obviously quite a new thing in Wycombe. It attracted a lot of people. "I think like a lot of new things people wanted to see what it was all about."
In 2010 he had his beard shaved off after 40 years to raise money for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust.
The 66-year-old brought Shopmobility to High Wycombe. He persuaded a councillor to go to Redditch to see how the shopmobility worked there.
They introduced it in the town and it has grown ever since.
He said: "It is probably one of the most successful schemes in the country. A lot of people can come shopping who wouldn't be able to do so."
Mr Pollard said he remembers one example where one lady who used the scheme for the first time said she hadn't been out of her house for 14 years.
He also set up Wycombe Watch, which is a business watch to keep crime at bay.
It helped Wycombe get the purple flag, which recognises the town as a safe place to go for a night out.
He was also chairman of the Town Centre Association, which preceded the Town Centre Partnership. He said it took nearly five years to get the private and public sector working together.
Mr Pollard said: "High Wycombe has changed quite dramatically. If you look at the history of Wycombe and how retail has changed- it has slowly moved west in the town.
"Look at old photos of the High Street and Easton Street- that was the hub of retail. It has slowly moved west and took a huge jump when Eden was opened.
"It affected a lot of the business in the town and the High Street and the Frogmoor area. The economic climate took a downturn when Eden opened.
"I think everyone found it really hard work ever since."
But he said the Chilterns Centre is going through a major change with the first phase completed with the students accommodation. He said he believes the future is positive.
The dad of two is now moving from Downley to his home village near Banbury and he plans to travel to countries such as Australia and Canada.
He was made an honorary burgess three years ago so will continue to come back to the town for civic events.