#Southend gets the #Xmas Factor
16th November 2011
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Pick the shop window with the X–mas factor!

As Southend stores prepare for the festive countdown, keen-eyed residents and visitors are being invited to help choose the best Christmas shop window in the borough.

The contest was launched after a special trophy was donated by chartered accountant and author John Kennedy Melling in memory of showbiz star Barbara Miller.

The Barbara Miller Award will be given to the Southend business which has created the best shop window celebrating the Christmas season.

Shoppers are being encouraged to submit details of their favourite window to alisondewey@southend.gov.uk by Friday 9th December.

Guided by their choices, the Worshipful the Mayor of Southend, Councillor David Norman, will make the final decision and award donor Mr Melling will present the trophy to the winner.

Barbara, who died in 1990, was very fond of Southend having been a leading lady at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff, in the 1960’s.

She started her stage career at just four-years-old and went on to appear in a raft of popular TV shows including Black Adder, the Two Ronnies, West End plays, panto and musicals.

Barbara also played the leading role of the Wife of Bath in the Canterbury Tales.

The well-loved actress was reckoned to have been a wife, mother or neighbour to 40 top actors, comedians and comediennes during her career.

Westcliiff-born Mr Melling, a lifelong friend of Barbara’s, said: “I was an accountant with a practice in Bond Street, London, and in Chalkwell Avenue, Westcliff, working with theatre people.

“Barbara was one of my clients and then became a very good friend of myself and my mother. The three of us would go on holiday together. Barbara was renowned for her ability to learn a whole role in 24 hours.

“She loved the way shopkeepers took the trouble to dress their windows at Christmas and said it was no good just putting a plastic Santa there and leaving it at that.

“This is why I thought the award would be good idea, especially as Barbara had such close associations with Southend.

“She was leading lady at the Palace Theatre for around three years and must have played around 50 parts here during that time. She appeared in musicals at the Cliffs Pavilion too.”

Mr Melling, a former pupil of Westcliff High School for Boys, has written books, plays and articles for a variety of local and national publications, including The Stage.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor John Lamb, said: “We very much welcome this competition and are very grateful to Mr Melling for donating the trophy which can be presented annually. This is a terrific opportunity to inspire retailers and other businesses to thoroughly enter the Christmas spirit!”

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Claire T

Member since: 10th July 2012

I am the very proud owner of thebestofsouthend. My aim is to really shout about why Southend is so great & champion our local business owners who do a really great job!
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