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Come Rain or Shine The Ridings is Ready for Family Time

So, the weather hasn’t been quite what we would expect from ‘the hottest summer predicted on record’ but that hasn’t put a dampener on our fun-filled days here at The Ridings.

From a mad science workshop to a princesses and pirates event and Punch & Judy show, we’ve been having a great time with a selection of wild and wonderful activities. Better still, there’s one more to come.

Our mad science workshop saw children carry out their very own chemical reactions with puffs of smoke in our ‘kitchen chemistry’ and take part in a gooey and gloopy ‘slime’ experiment.

Mad Science Workshop

Aye! Don’t all our pirates and princesses look fantastic! We had lots of little ones come dressed in their best fancy dress outfits to enjoy our themed craft workshop, as well as exciting pirate storytelling.




Last Saturday (15th August) we joined in with Seaside in the City, by welcoming a Punch & Judy show – that’s the way you do it! We also had balloon demonstrations, offering some amazing creations.

On Saturday (22nd August) we transported shoppers back to the Jurassic era with Steggy the Stegosaurus – our life sized, but friendly dinosaur!

Steggy, the huge, walking and interactive dinosaur prowled the centre, alongside a palaeontologist. With a natural history show and plenty of opportunities to meet and greet Steggy, we also had a bone trail taking place around the centre too!

08.24.15 Dinosaur

With just over one week left of the summer holidays we still have a last summer activity for the children to enjoy.

For our final summer activity on Saturday (29th August), kids will be able to take a stroll through the “deep dark wood” and meet the monster-like grizzly bear and half buffalo, The Gruffalo. Even though he has ‘terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth behind his jaws’ children will be able to see the famous character up close for storytelling time.

The activity will run from 11am to 4pm on the upper mall. There’s no need to pre-register; you can just turn up on the day with your little ones and enjoy a fun-filled family day out. Better still you won’t have to spend a penny because the event is absolutely free!

So, let your youngsters imaginations run wild and keep them entertained for the remainder of the summer holidays come rain or shine with our final, exciting themed activity!

A Request from the USA for a piece of The Ridings

Ridings – the name of our much-loved shopping centre and also a long-established surname, widely recorded in the northern English counties.

It is this association that led to us being contacted by a member of the Ridings Worldwide fan club – a Facebook page that has been created for people who share the Ridings surname. The lady in question, Carolyn Ridings Cameron, who was based in Decatur USA enquired as to whether she could purchase one of The Ridings branded mugs that we had commissioned to celebrate the Millennium.

Having owned the mug for a number of years Carolyn was hoping to purchase a second one for another family member, so they could celebrate being two Ridings together!

Whilst we didn’t have any mugs to hand, having been made in 2000, we set about making this woman’s dreams come true by sourcing another one. After all we couldn’t let a fellow Ridings down!

The branded mug was commissioned and we were thrilled when it arrived back with us displaying our logo clearly; it was also big enough to hold a steaming hot cup of tea or coffee – perfect! We couldn’t wait to get the mug over to Carolyn for her thoughts.

It had a very long way to go though (over 4,000 miles!) and we were keen to ensure that it got there in one piece during! Six layers of bubble wrap later and with all our fingers and toes crossed, we sent the mug off on its long journey to the USA.

With bated breath we waited two weeks for Carolyn to receive the mug and when an email popped up in our inbox, our finger couldn’t click the open button fast enough.

But our excitement soon fizzled out to disappointment when we read that whilst the mug had arrived, the mug’s handle had broken on route. Oh dear!

Mug 2

The mug, which didn’t quite make it to the USA in one piece!


We did our best, but it was a very big ask. It would seem that crockery probably isn’t the best item to send via airmail.

Nonetheless, Carolyn was impressed with our determination and desire to get a Ridings mug over to her. It’s also great to see that we have fans far and wide across the whole of the world.

Whilst Carolyn might not be able pick up the mug by its handle and drink from it at least she has a piece of The Ridings at home in the USA!

KT’s Kitchen Yorkshire Talks Craft Markets

If you didn’t know already on the first Sunday of each month we hold a Craft Market, a bigger and better version of our Yorkshire markets that we launched in 2011.

Our markets have gone down a real treat, proving really popular with our shoppers who enjoy being able to browse the rails of our high street brands, as well as pick up unique, quality crafts and handmade goods all in one go.

The real secret behind their success is the lovely market traders who come along each month, set up stalls and create the hustle and bustle of the market place that you have all come to love.

Karen Tuck of KT's Kitchen Yorkshire

Karen Tuck of KT’s Kitchen Yorkshire

So we decided to catch up with one of those stall holders, Karen Tuck from KT’s Kitchen Yorkshire who creates a range of quality, artisan foods, to find out a little more about her business and just why she decided to get involved with our Craft Markets.

Karen comments: “I launched KT’s Kitchen Yorkshire in May 2014, but like many new businesses, the concept and research actually began 5 years prior to this.

“As you can imagine, I had a great deal of research to do from understanding about food legislation to deciding upon my label design. I wanted to ensure that every aspect of the company was spot on before I launched it and this attention to detail continues to this day as my range of products grow and adapt.

“Operating from my home, I now produce jam, marmalade and chutneys which contain no preservatives or artificial gelling agents, as well as traybakes, chocolate shoes and truffles. I also produce a range of gift items including the ever-popular dried ingredient jars.

“After having The Ridings’ Craft Markets recommended to me by a friend and a fellow trader who had taken one of the stalls there, I decided to take the plunge and join in with the fun. It gives me great pleasure to meet customers face to face with some of them returning time after time.

“As I have my full range stocked within Created in Yorkshire based in The Ridings, it is the perfect opportunity to extend my reach and meet customers who purchase from the shop, as well as attract new ones who come to the centre just for the market.

“Being able to meet customers face to face is what makes the Craft Markets so enjoyable. It’s just my products that are on display in Created in Yorkshire, so I wouldn’t have the chance to meet my customers if it wasn’t for the monthly Markets. Importantly people are also able to put a face to the person behind the business.

“I love meeting potential new customers, finding out what tickles their taste buds and establishing which of my products would be most suitable for them.

“I also have my regular customers who enjoy coming along to the markets and restocking their cupboards full of their favourite items. It is such a wonderful feeling and privilege when a customer comes back to purchase from my range again or to buy an item as a gift for that special someone.

“I never like to miss a market as I see no point in establishing loyal customers and then not being there for them, so I will attend each market from April right through to December.

“As a small business I have to work hard to keep my current customers and to also attract new ones, so it makes sense for me to regularly attend each market and keep the brand at the fore front of peoples’ minds.

“I started the business wanting to concentrate on just chocolate items, however I expanded this to include jams, marmalades and chutneys and it is actually this part of KT’s Kitchen Yorkshire that forms the bulk of my sales.

“My personal favourites and those that have proven most popular amongst customers are the Pineapple and Lime Jam, Grapefruit and Cranberry Marmalade and the Sweet Chilli Relish. If you like something different, I would certainly recommend that you come along and sample some of my delicious flavours.

“Whilst I love my jams and chutneys, as I have a real sweet tooth, my favourite item to make is chocolate. Tempering chocolate by hand takes a lot of precision and patience and is more like a science.

“I really enjoy creating the chocolate truffles, but the satisfaction I get from making a beautifully decorated and personalised chocolate shoe is very rewarding – they certainly have the wow factor and make the perfect gift!

“As ever I’ll be at The Ridings’ next Craft Market taking place on Sunday 5th July, so make sure you save the date, pop along to my stall and say hello!”

A Fabulous Summer Style Event

We teamed up with top stylist and retail expert Tina Gill to host a Summer Style Event and general day of fabulousness on Saturday 16th May, which attracted shoppers of all ages and provided us with loads of summer style insights and ideas.

M&S, BHS, Primark, WH Retail and Hype Kids all showed us the best of their summer collections and we used real models in our showcases, many of whom work in our stores! Our adorable little Hype Kids models generated lots of ‘Awws’ from the audience and had a great time strutting their stuff!

Free fizz and cupcakes were enjoyed by guests while they enjoyed the shows and entered a special competition to win a VIP Styling Session with Tina and £250 to spend in the centre.

Tina also hosted a tips-packed summer holiday show, answering audience queries and showing us how to pack the perfect holiday wardrobe (tip – pack outfits not items!).

Consultants from Ann Summers and Lancôme were also on hand to assist with lingerie fitting and makeup demos, ensuring that our guests went away with everything they needed to look and feel stylish this summer.

See all the photos on our Facebook page – don’t forget to tag yourself and your friends!






Success at the 2015 Wakefield Retail Awards!

As sponsors of the 2015 Wakefield District Retail Awards, we attended the glitzy awards ceremony on Saturday 16th May along with colleagues from our shortlisted shops – M&S, Boots, Feather’s Confectionery, Morgana & Hellraiser and Esquires Coffee House.

Set in the stunning and recently refurbished Unity Works, the event was hosted by celebrity florist and all-round fabulous TV personality Carl Wilde, who did a stellar job of helping us celebrate the best of Wakefield retail. After a champagne reception, delicious meal and rummage through our glamourous goody bags we were finally allowed to discover who had won what across the hotly anticipated awards.

Many of our nominated stores were successful and we were thrilled when Morgana & Hellraiser won Independent Specialist Retailer of the Year and M&S won National Retailer of the Year.  Feather’s Confectionery won a commendation in the category for Food Retailer and Victoria Goudie from Esquires Coffee House was also commended in the highly-regarded category of Employee of the Year.

Our previous centre manager Barbara Winston was presented with an honourary award recognising her service and contribution to Wakefield retail and her pivotal role in launching the first ever Wakefield Retail Awards in 2013.

We’d like to say a huge well done to all of our shortlisted and successful retailers, we’re extremely proud and we’re already excited for next year’s awards now!

Retail Pride for Wakefield

Tomorrow evening (Saturday 16th May), members of The Ridings Shopping Centre team will be putting on their glad rags and heading to Unity Works for the Wakefield District Retail Awards 2015 awards ceremony.

While we may sponsor the event, what makes it even more special is that some of our fantastic retailers have made it onto the shortlist and are in the running to pick up a trophy on the night.

Not just one but six –yes, that’s right SIX – of our retailers have made it through to the final stage of the awards, having been recognised for making a huge difference in the district and helping to make Wakefield a vibrant and attractive place that people want to visit.

We are bursting with pride to see our retailers appear on the shortlist and are very excited to see if they have been successful.

Those shortlisted from The Ridings are as follows:

Created in Yorkshire - Independent and Specialist Retailer

Feather’s Confectionery – New on the High Street

Morgana and Hellraiser – Independent and Specialist Retailer

M&S – Food Retailer, Fashion Retailer, Hair, Health & Beauty Retailer, Home & Garden Retailer, Bar, Restaurant & Venue,

National Retailer, Online Retailer, Customer Service

Boots – Health & Beauty Retailer, National Retailer

Esquires Coffee House – Customer Service. Employee Victoria Goudie has also been shortlisted for the coveted Employee of the Year Award too!

And last but by no means least we also have our very own friendly Customer Service team who have been nominated for the Customer Service award.

It’s great to see such a strong mix of retailers – we have those that have been at the heart of The Ridings since the very start and also some of our newer stores.

All those shortlisted have done extremely well to get this far and should be very pleased – we certainly are!

Although we sponsor the event, along with our partners Trinity Walk and the Wakefield City Centre Partnership, we do not get involved in judging, this is done by an independent panel, so just like everyone else, we are eagerly waiting to see whose names will be read out and crowned as overall winners.

Roll on tomorrow – we can’t wait to find out who’s won. Until then keep your fingers and toes crossed! Good luck to all our stores!

Tina’s Summer Style Tips

Tina Head Shot

Let us introduce Tina Gill, a top stylist with over 30 years experience in retail and fashion and an eye for detail like no other! 

Tina will be hosting our Summer Style Event on Saturday 16th May and here she’s written us an exclusive article which is packed full of summer style and holiday dressing tips! Enjoy!


As we head into the Summer months and fabulous weather (fingers crossed!!) the focus on dressing changes from covering everything up with woollies and coats, to baring a bit more flesh and wearing lighter weight fabrics.  So if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to split your wardrobe into seasons and pack away the heavier garments so you can organise your clothes to make outfit selections so much easier.

The key for stylish dressing is to keep things simple – and use accessories to vary your looks. For instance, if you choose a colour palette of say 3 neutral colours such as, navy, white and stone, you can then add colours which work across all of those to minimise the amount of clothes you actually need (and probably wouldn’t wear!!).  Adding a couple of printed pieces or a nice patterned dress (maxis are great – flattering for most body shapes and they hide pasty legs) will add interest. A great pair of tan wedges is a must have addition to the summer wardrobe and they are surprisingly comfortable to walk in.

For those lucky enough to be travelling to distant shores for a summer break – remember to only pack for the duration of your holiday, and not as if you were moving house!! Here are some of my tips for keeping packing to a minimum:

Choose things which co-ordinate so you can make more outfits from less individual garments (remember the colour palette rule). Use great accessories to create stylish looks.

Before you pack –try each outfit on, especially if you have bought new items. You don’t want to pack stuff that you don’t feel comfortable in or which don’t work with other items you want to take.

Wear things twice – if you wear it for an evening out one day, this can be worn as a daytime outfit on another day. For instance a great printed kaftan top can be worn with skinny jeans and high shoes for night and then worn over shorts and swimwear in the day time.

Wear your heaviest shoes to travel in, but make sure they are something you will wear with other outfits once you are at your destination. The same applies to heavy weight clothing items – travel in layers, all of which can be worn again on holiday.

Don’t go mad with footwear – take a couple of pairs of flip flops, some ballet pumps and a high wedge in a neutral colour.

Pack socks and underwear in the toes of shoes and buy heavier items such as sun creams at your destination if possible.

Take spare underwear and a lightweight top or change of clothing in your hand luggage in case of lost baggage or delay at the airport.


For more advice on what to wear and pack for your holidays, or just to get some ideas on how to wear this season’s collections, come and meet me at the Summer Style event on Saturday 16th May.

Look forward to seeing you all then,


Tina XXX

Welcoming Sara

In our last blog we introduced you to Eileen Holroyd who has taken over the reins as Centre Manager, we also briefly mentioned that Sara Hassan has joined us as Marketing Manager.

Marketing Manager, Sara Hassan

Marketing Manager, Sara Hassan

While Eileen is a familiar face around the centre having been with us since the first foundations were being excavated in June 1981, Sara is a new Ridings team member, so we thought you might like to find out a little more about her. We grabbed five minutes with Sara to talk all things fashion, Yorkshire and The Ridings. Here’s what she had to say.

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A doctor but I soon realised I wasn’t quite cut out for it as I’m pretty squeamish!

2. What was your first job?
When I left school I worked in a shoe shop. I loved it but spent most of my time trying on shoes and most of my wages buying them!

3. What’s your favourite shop?
Feather’s Confectionery –I love chocolate and it’s packed full of delicious handmade creations. I go in under the pretence of buying a gift, which often end up being for me. I love trying out their new flavours and literally can’t leave without buying a bag of treats!

4. What’s your favourite item of clothing?
I love statement necklaces, I think they can totally transform any outfit and take you from day to night really easily.

5. What’s your top fashion tip?
Always think of long term style over a short-term trend. It’s great to follow fashion but I love it when people take a trend and really make it their own. I’m always looking at fashion blogs and Instagram to gather ideas for wearing a certain look. I think true style comes from making something your own, while dressing for yourself and shape.

6. How do you like to spend your weekends?
I love getting out and about around Yorkshire with my friends and family. Whether it’s checking out a new bar in Leeds, a restaurant in Wakefield or having a Sunday walk around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Yorkshire has lots to offer.

7. What’s your guilty pleasure?
I have no willpower when it comes to chocolate or shopping (as you can already tell from my previous answers!) but I feel less guilty about shopping as I work in retail and it’s partly a form of research! (so I tell myself!)

8. Name one person you would most like to have dinner with and why?
Sir Phillip Green – I’d ask him lots of questions about his career and hugely successful retail empire. Hopefully some of his expertise would rub off on me!

9. What is your favourite time of day?
I love lunchtime as the centre is at its busiest with lots of people enjoying all of the lovely food on offer from our shops and cafes. It’s always nice to see our cafes full of people enjoying lunch too.

10. What would you do if you won the Lottery?
I would firstly make a big donation to local homeless charities. Then I’d sort my family and friends out by treating them to special gifts and a holiday or two. If there were any of my winnings left, I’d go travelling in style, before settling down in a nice villa in Ibiza.

11. What do you love most about Yorkshire?
Yorkshire’s really awesome! There are so many things to list but for me it’s the friendliness of the people. You get called ‘Love’ wherever you go and people are always so welcoming. You don’t get that just anywhere!

12. What attracted you to a position in marketing?
What I really enjoy about marketing is that it is so varied and requires lots of different skills. It’s all about being creative and innovative whilst at the same time being extremely organised and measured to ensure objectives are achieved. I also love how marketing is all about people and what they want – there’s nothing better than planning a campaign then seeing it come to life and witnessing people getting involved and enjoying themselves!

13. What’s your favourite thing about The Ridings Shopping Centre?
This is a hard question as The Ridings is great in so many ways. Firstly, I love how we have many independent stores siting alongside big name brands and that you can discover unique, handmade gems in shops like Created in Yorkshire. There’s also a great atmosphere in the centre, especially when we’re hosting an event and everyone always makes you feel welcome and at home – it really is the heart of Wakefield!

14. What are you most looking forward to over the coming months?
We’ve got so many exciting things planned for 2015 I’m literally looking forward to the whole year! In the next couple of months we’re launching our new Ridings website and in-centre WI-FI. We’re hosting lots of events including a style event in May, then we have a great summer campaign planned that includes a kids’ club and lots of other exciting events, then we’ll be gearing up for Christmas and our famous Light Switch On!

We’re thrilled to have Sara join The Ridings team. I’m sure you’ll join us in welcoming Sara and wishing her the best of luck!

Easter Fun

We had so much fun hosting our Easter Egg Hunt over the holidays and it was great to see so many children on the hunt for the hidden eggs! We were helped along the trail on Saturday 4th April by a very special egg, Humpty Dumpty, who was just adorable and loved posing for selfies with our thrilled shoppers!

Our Easter Egg Hunt ended with a prize draw and Billy Shea-Jackson, aged 9 from Wakefield was the lucky winner of a hamper and £100 worth of shopping vouchers. Congratulations Billy!

We’ve got lots more fun planned so keep following us on Facebook and Twitter and don’t miss out!

Meet our New Centre Manager – Eileen Holroyd

The past few weeks at The Ridings have been very exciting as we have welcomed a new Centre Manager. Well when we say new, we mean new to the role because Eileen Holroyd who has taken over the reins from Barbara Winston, is actually our longest serving member of staff! (more…)