Weekly Northants Hour Twitter chat 'great opportunity' for residents and businesses to connect

"NorthantsHour is fantastic. An opportunity to talk to other local businesses, find out about things going on in and around Northampton and more importantly catch up with lots of lovely, supportive people."

By Megan Hillery
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 9:27 pm

The organiser of a weekly hour-long Twitter chat for Northamptonshire residents and businesses wants to grow the conversation and invite more locals to participate.

The name of the Twitter chat, 'Northants Hour', was initially coined by BBC Radio Northampton's Willy Gilder who launched the #NorthantsHour hashtag.

Marketing, communications and administrative assistant, Emily Askew, then created the official Northants Hour UK Twitter account in July 2013 to promote the hashtag and grow the local network.

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One of the Northants Hour 'tweet-ups' at the Cheyne Walk Club in Northampton.

Emily said: "I also wanted to do my bit to promote the town as I would regularly hear people say ‘Northampton is boring, there’s nothing to do’ so I set it my personal mission to help change their view.

"Part of the reason I believe is because they’re not aware of the amazing businesses and events happening within the town so I help to share this."

The weekly #NorthantsHour chat, which takes place every Thursday at 8pm on Twitter, gradually grew over the years. This prompted Emily to host two 'tweet ups', where participants met face-to-face and thanked the '#NorthantsHour King', Willy Gilder, in person for brainstorming the idea.

The hashtag took a hiatus for a few years then, with permission from Willy, it was re-launched again and it once again trended on Twitter. Emily then created a Facebook and Instagram page to expand the hashtag across multiple platforms to further promote the county's local businesses and services.

Emily said: "I love the community spirit and support within the networking hour. Those involved support each other, buy from one another, share services and it helps to give businesses the promotion they deserve – a huge thanks goes to everyone who joins the hashtag each week, I am forever grateful."

Emily added that lockdown was a 'poignant moment' for the hashtag as she was able to take advantage of being furloughed from work to create lists of local businesses to support during what was - and continues to be - a challenging time.

The lists contained restaurants, pubs and cafes - that were still operating via a takeaway service - and home baking businesses as well as local shops, which were offering a delivery or pickup service.

This newspaper asked participating local businesses how the weekly chat has benefitted them.

Vice chairman at Cheyne Walk Club, James Tarry, said: "It's certainly helped awareness, and we hosted the last #Northantshour tweet up. It’s also really good to feel part of the community, as well as to know more local businesses and promote what they do."

Station manager at NLive radio, Martin Steers, said: "It's been a great opportunity for us to engage with local groups, businesses and others such as yourselves."

Co-owner of Cafe Track, Tom Cliffe, said: "#NorthantsHour is fantastic. An opportunity to talk to other local businesses, find out about things going on in and around Northampton and more importantly catch up with lots of lovely, supportive people."

Station manager and presenter at Shire Sounds Radio, Charlie Stone, said: "It’s fantastic! It created brilliant opportunities to network and engage with other businesses in Northants, without even needing to leave your desk/sofa. It’s also great to read out the tweets on air and entertain those tweeting at the same time."

Join in the conversation at the weekly #NorthantsHour chat, which takes place every Thursday evening from 8pm to 9pm. Search the hashtag on Twitter and add #NorthantsHour to your tweets to share your news, events or chat with local residents and businesses.

Emily added: "I’d also like to offer my support to get businesses and charities set up on Twitter so they can join in the hour to help to reach a larger audience."

The next #NorthantsHour chat takes place tonight (Thursday, February 3) at 8pm.