The Abbey is a working Benedictine monastery, nestled in the foothills of the moor. Founded in 1018, it fell into ruins after the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry VIII. It was re-built stone by stone, by a group of French monks in the 19th century.
With a number of departments, including the Abbey Church, The Grange restaurant, gardens, music, education department, bee-keeping, choir, hotel and conference centre, there’s a never-ending supply of news-stories.
The Abbey’s Millennium year was a significant landmark, which took years of planning and preparation.
Many events took place throughout the year and Chalk + Ward were on hand at the outset, to ensure maximum coverage was gained from each local, regional and national print and broadcast media opportunity.
The undoubted highlight of the year was when BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow came to film two episodes, the first of which was broadcast in February 2019, with the second episode aired on Easter Sunday. Prior to the event, Chalk+ Ward ensured the story was covered in all the relevant local media and the PR account manager was on hand throughout the day to amplify social media coverage.
More coverage was obtained following the announcement of the screening date. It was a moment of pride for the agency to see the Abbey’s wonderful gardens shown at the height of their late-summer perfection to a winter-weary nation. The broadcast brought immediate tangible benefits with an increase in visitor enquiries immediately after the programme was transmitted.
At Christmas, the Abbey had again been centre-stage with the live broadcast of BBC One’s Midnight Mass. Once more, this prompted nationwide publicity.
More TV and radio coverage was gained earlier in the year with a bell-ringing festival, one of several events run for the first time in honour of the landmark anniversary. Others included the first garden and food fayres. These events alone boasted 120 stalls and attracted an estimated 5,000 extra visitors. In addition, a story-telling festival, numerous concerts and organ recitals in the acoustically-superb Abbey Church, a sponsored walk along an ancient route used by the Abbey’s monks centuries ago and a Mad Hatter’s tea-party for local schoolchildren brought in hundreds of locals and visitors to the area.
Throughout the year, there were numerous spreads in local and national lifestyle magazines, such as Devon Life. This included a profile of the Abbot, David Charlesworth and double-page features on all of the headline events.
In the run-up to the Millennium, Chalk + Ward ensured all senior staff were media trained, enabling a quick response to interview requests.
The year ended with the presentation of cheques for £30,000 each to Devon’s five hospices – the proceeds of the numerous events during 2018.
The Millennium events attracted an extra 25,000 visitors to Buckfast Abbey – and Chalk + Ward is extremely proud of the part the agency played in promoting the celebrations.
PR work continues apace in 2019, and one of the legacies of the Millennium is the repeat of many of the events launched last year. A new focus for PR is the announcement of a major new project at the Abbey, plans for a unique, specialist care village, providing supported accommodation for people of all ages in an eco-friendly development, with a dedicated dementia unit and nursing facilities, plus leisure facilities and a revamped community centre.
Chalk + Ward is not only handling all the communications for this project but is also excited to be providing all the branding, design and marketing for the scheme.
Chalk + Ward continues to support Buckfast Abbey in all aspects of PR, from press releases to broadcast features, covering everything from bees and music concerts to major development plans.
All images courtesy of Buckfast Abbey Media Studios 2019 © Owner of copyright
Robert Chalk, Managing Director, Chalk + Ward
“We are proud of our PR achievements for this truly outstanding and highly interesting client. We’re very much looking forward to building on the Millennium legacy and deepening our partnership with Buckfast Abbey in the years to come,”