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A royal invitation for successful Shrewsbury independent business

An independent business owner from Shrewsbury is hoping to sing the praises of the county town to The King after being invited to a special event at Buckingham Palace. 

Gill Gradwell, owner of Cooking Kneads
Gill Gradwell, owner of Cooking Kneads

Gill Gradwell, owner of Cooking Kneads in Wyle Cop, is heading to London for a royal reception to recognise the contribution of small businesses to the economy. 

Gill was nominated by the British Independent Retail Association as an outstanding example of a successful business, and said she was shocked and delighted. 

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“I feel totally overwhelmed and privileged to receive this invitation,” she said.  

“Shrewsbury is a wonderful town and Cooking Kneads is very lucky to be amongst some wonderful independent shops on Wyle Cop – we can boast as being the longest stretch of independents in Britain! 

“If I am lucky enough to speak to The King then I would thank him for inviting me and how much of an honour it is. 

“I would also like to say how important small businesses are and how the high street has changed with more specialist shops and how important customer service is. I would love him to visit our wonderful town! 

“Cooking Kneads started in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength. Our team consists of Jane, Tracey, Kay, Sarah and Rose and we pride ourselves on excellent customer service and a wealth of knowledge in the cooking and houseware retail industry. 

“During Covid we created our website – I was very fortunate that my family were ‘stranded in Shrewsbury’ and created the online shop, which gave Cooking Kneads another dimension. 

“We provided free local delivery and kept ourselves on the map through these tough times. When allowed to reopen the support from people was amazing and the loyalty of our customers has been very much appreciated. 

“Over the years I have had several career changes – from veterinary assistant, PA for a sports agency, catering manager and restaurant owner. Being a farmer’s daughter I have always loved the outdoor life – working on the farm during my teenage years. 

“My mother was an excellent cook and taught me some great skills. I have a wonderful family and great friends and I am very lucky to have Cooking Kneads and be able to do a job that I love and feel very passionate about.” 

Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, congratulated Gill on her royal invitation. 

He added: “Cooking Kneads is a well-established business in the town centre, and a fantastic example of the many wonderful independent shops which Shrewsbury is renowned for. 

“We hope Gill enjoys the reception and gets the opportunity to tell King Charles all about our fantastic town!” 

Jeff Moody, managing director of BIRA, said: “The British Independent Retailers Association were delighted to be invited by Buckingham Palace to nominate independent businesses from all over the UK to recognise their important contribution to the economy. 

“Cooking Kneads is a perfect example of a customer focusing retailer offering real service to the community and increasing footfall on in Shrewsbury town centre. 

“Being a local man myself I am so pleased that Shrewsbury BID supports so many independent retailers.” 

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