HUNDREDS have signed up to be Swindon ambassadors.

A year after he launched the campaign, Switch on to Swindon boss Gavin Calthrop sees the scheme as his biggest achievement.

Gavin, who has been seconded from the borough council, leads the organisation charged with promoting a positive image for Swindon.

Launched last January, Switch on to Swindon has recruited almost 600

“ambassadors” from around 400 different firms around the town.

“It far exceeded our expectations,” said Gavin, who has worked in the town for 14 years. “Those ambassadors represent a huge number of companies – from multinationals to small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Among the businesses signed up to the ambassador scheme are major employers Nationwide Building Society and the Great Western Hospital.

The campaign has profiled individuals in a bid to show people and businesses considering moving to the town.

They include Old Town social media entrepreneur Alex Pollock, who said: “The only place to be based permanently was back in Swindon. Through the Swindon business community... we’ve been able to build a pool of local freelancers.”

Over the next year Switch on to Swindon will focus on marketing campaigns aimed at bringing talented recruits and businesses to the town in key “growth” industries, like car building, financial services, pharmaceuticals, digital and technology.

Gavin, the son of a former Adver reporter, said: “We’re focused on how we use the campaign and traction we’ve already achieved to help businesses with recruitment and retention.

“Recruiting and retaining the best talent across all the areas is a big challenge for us.”

He suggested that Swindon’s reputation nationally could be improved: “One of the things we find is, given the perception challenge, it’s slightly harder to recruit and retain people.

“But in terms of Swindon’s connectivity and as a place to base your business, it’s great.”

The response from the town’s business community to the campaign had been “fantastic”, he said.

“At the start of the year I feared I might have to spend a lot of the year sticking my foot in the door,” he joked. “But it’s been entirely the opposite.”

The organisation has used local businesses to develop the campaign and put on events.

Gavin said: "We said right from the start that if we want to celebrate what Swindon has to offer then we would commit to using the talent and expertise in Swindon to promote it."

The Swindon Advertiser is backing the Switch on to Swindon campaign.

Editor Pete Gavan said: “Swindon is a thriving town, with some of the country’s biggest firms and charities headquartered here.

“It’s about time that more people recognised Swindon as a great place to live and work.”

For more about Switch on to Swindon, visit: