Halogen leads Slough businesses to challenge Betjeman

The UK’s leading property communications consultancy Halogen initiated a unique project to improve Slough’s profile for client British Land, during recent celebrations to mark John Betjeman’s centenary

The former poet laureate’s ode ‘Slough’ has dogged the town’s image since it was written in 1937. Betjeman’s centenary provided a great opportunity to challenge the poem’s criticism and put Slough on the map for the right reasons – its success as a centre for global business, sport and the arts

Halogen proposed a gift bag - containing items from successful companies doing business in Slough - to be given to the 250 guests on a special steam train going from London to Bristol – via Slough - for a Betjeman memorial service. Sir Trevor Macdonald, HRH The Duke of Gloucester and current poet laureate Andrew Motion were among guests on the train

The aim of the gift bags was to make passengers think twice about Slough and challenge the town’s image by demonstrating just how successful it is

British Land, owner of the Queensmere Observatory Shopping centres in Slough, funded the initiative and provided branded gifts. Honda, Citroen, Mars, Slough Estates and Black & Decker were among the other companies that Halogen persuaded to provide goodies

Commenting on the gift bags, Betjeman’s daughter Candida Lycett-Green said: “Passengers on the centenary steam train were blown away by the quality of the gifts and genuinely surprised by how successful Slough has been since the poem was written. The gift bags added an extra special touch to the journey and the day’s events to commemorate my father’s life and works”

The train stopped at Slough station en route to Bristol, to allow Candida to alight and meet 11-year-old Joanna Okolotowicz, the winner of a competition to write a new poem for Slough. Candida presented Joanna and the Mayor of Slough with a book of her father’s poems in which she had written an apology for the Slough poem on behalf of her father, saying that he wished it had never been published – a message which has delighted the Mayor and residents of Slough – and achieved extensive national press coverage

21 November 2006