Former Gloucestershire Echo editor and director of Cheltenham BID dies

Kevan Blackadder

Kevan Blackadder, a hugely respected newspaper editor and latterly director of the Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) has died.

Known for his work within Cheltenham as Town Centre Manager and more recently Director of Cheltenham BID, Kevan was passionate about seeing the town centre improve and thrive, supporting hundreds of businesses and establishing events which are now enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors annually.

Kevan, who celebrated turning 60 last year, began his career as a reporter working for his home-town newspaper, the Whitehaven News in Cumbria; he then took a role at the Bristol Post before eventually settling in Gloucestershire with his wife, Liz, and becoming editor of the Gloucestershire Echo.

A passionate advocate for the town, in 2015 Kevan became manager of the Cheltenham Business Partnership to help bring businesses and organisations together for the benefit of the town. In 2016 he moved into his role as director of Cheltenham BID and worked tirelessly to support businesses and improve the town centre. In his five years as director, Cheltenham BID took ownership of the town’s Christmas light switch-on and markets, year after year building on the successes and paving the way for more festive offerings for residents, including an ice rink which is expected in 2021. Kevan also helped establish Light Up Cheltenham, Cheltenham’s Boutique Sale and Cheltenham’s Chilli Fiesta plus the Cheltenham Festivals …Around Town initiatives which offer free activities for Cheltenham’s residents and visitors. All the events helped support businesses by bringing thousands of visitors into the town centre. Cheltenham BID has also been responsible for town centre initiatives such as Tidy Up Cheltenham and Cheltenham in Bloom which have both seen the town centre improved.

Despite settling in Bishops Cleeve, Kevan never forgot his roots, passionately following Carlisle United Football Club throughout his life. He also enjoyed keeping active both at his local gym and whilst taking walks.

In summer last year Kevan took a step back from his role within Cheltenham BID due to illness but avidly followed Cheltenham BID’s work and continued to support where he could. The news of his passing this week was unexpected and will be a shock to those who knew him.

Alex Rose, chair of Cheltenham BID’s board, says: “Cheltenham has lost one of its biggest pillars. Kevan worked tirelessly for the benefit of the town and was a friend to so many. He was the driving force of so many of Cheltenham and the BID’s successes. Even during his illness he was still working and keeping up to speed.  I and the BID team will miss him greatly.”

Belinda Hunt, operations manager of Cheltenham BID, says: “Kevan was such fun to work with.  He always saw the positive side of a situation and no matter how difficult the circumstances, he always managed to help put things in perspective.

“His passion for Cheltenham was infectious and you couldn’t help but be swept along by his enthusiasm, with the businesses interests always at the heart of everything he did as BID Director.

I feel very fortunate to have worked with him as he helped the BID team to grow as people.”

Nicky Godding, editor at Business & Innovation Magazine, said: “This is a huge loss to Cheltenham. Kevan’s enthusiasm and determination to get things done were infectious. He was a do-er rather than a prevaricator, and the world could do with a few more of those.”

Cllr Rowena Hay, leader at Cheltenham Borough Council said: ‘’We are saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Kevan Blackadder.

‘’Kevan was very well known in Cheltenham. He was a key voice and ambassador in representing businesses and championing the town and wider Gloucestershire, in his role as director at the Business Improvement District and prior to that as editor of the Gloucestershire Echo. Kevan will be sadly missed as a respected colleague and friend to many. Kevan’s passing will be a huge loss to the town.

‘’Our thoughts are with Kevan’s family at this time.’’

Kevan is survived by his wife Liz.