Oxford City Council’s campaign to find the most romantic spot in Oxford has found a winner: the gates to Christ Church Meadow in St Aldate’s.
Sue Parker’s nomination – which remembers her father, and her parents’ almost 60 years of marriage – received 216 votes from members of the public.
She has won dinner, bed and breakfast at Malmaison; a cheese board and wine from 1855; his and hers gift sets from Ansari Boutique and Burrows and Hare; and luxury chocolates from iScream Gelateria.
The #LoveinOxford campaign asked people to nominate their most romantic spot in Oxford by using the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
More than 250 people made nominations.
A panel of experts – Councillor Christine Simm, the City Council Executive Board Member for Culture and Communities; Laurie Taylor, the City Council’s city centre manager; and Martin Walker, head of marketing and development at Experience Oxfordshire – then whittled the nominations down to a top ten.
Members of the public were then able to vote on the top ten. In total, 625 votes were cast. The results, which were announced on Valentine’s Day, can be viewed on Facebook.
Sue's nomination reads: "For me, the most romantic place in Oxford is the Christ Church Meadow's gate, in St Aldate's.
"My Mum was evacuated to Oxford during the war and after she met my Dad, and married, they often visited friends in Oxford, but never lived here.
"A few years ago I moved to live nearby and last summer, Mum and I spent a lovely summer day exploring the city and revisiting her remembered places.
"As we walked in through this gate, she stopped and held my arm and became tearful.
"She told me that all through their married life, she'd told Dad about a sword sunk into the ground in Oxford, but she'd never been able to find it and he had told her that her memory was playing tricks and she'd imagined it.
"And suddenly, there it was - the sword and inscription in the pavement inside the gate.
"Sadly, Dad died six years ago, just before their 60th wedding anniversary, so, unless he was looking down that day, she was never able to prove that she hadn't dreamt it, but it just brought back a whirl of happy memories of him and their happy days in Oxford.
"I'll always remember that day and that place with a mix of tears and the image of Dad, looking down and chuckling that Mum had been right all along."
The campaign was seen by people about 500,000 times on social media, including 353,285 times on Twitter and Instagram – according to hashtag tracking software www.keyhole.co. The campaign received a further 116,339 impressions on the City Council’s Facebook page.
Organisations including Oxford Bus Company, Oxford Mail, Modern Art Oxford, Clarendon Centre, Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford New Theatre, Experience Oxfordshire and Westgate Oxford joined in to promote the campaign on social media.
The entire campaign budget was £400.
Laurie Taylor, Oxford City Council’s city centre manager, said: “The purpose of the campaign was to get people to fall in love with Oxford city centre all over again.
“We wanted people to share positive experiences about our beautiful city – and we were completely blown away by the response.”