The most recent Robin Hood-related news stories breaking in the global media!

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Robin Hood in 2016

ROBIN HOOD IN 2016.

According to the recently published book “The Life and Times of the Real Robyn Hoode” by author, archaeologist and television presenter, Mark Olly, Robin Hood was supposedly “likely to have been born around the winter of 1129/1130, during the reign of King Henry II” and although the exact location is unknown, it was most probably the village of Loxley, in Staffordshire on the estate lands belonging to the Earls of Chester. If this viewpoint is correct (and there are several other academics and historians who would generally agree with this speculative timeline) then, as we move towards 2016, that makes the internationally famous folk hero some 885 years old! For over eight centuries the characters and principles of the popular tales have continued to fascinate and intrigue each new generation and they still have a social relevance to many of the key global issues currently facing the world today!

Story telling is of course one of the oldest forms of communicating history and heritage and although it is some 550 years since the first collection of ballads about Robin Hood was printed by Wynkyn de Worde around 1489 as “A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode”, many believe that the legend stretches back much further into the realms of medieval folklore and Pagan customs. The public’s fascination with the tales is unquestioned and Robin constantly makes the news through one diverse connection or another. Over recent weeks, Nottingham’s outlaw hero has lent his name to a new energy company, a travel scheme card and also been the subject of two new books. A full size replica of the Robin Hood Statue that stands beneath Nottingham Castle walls was recently gifted to Ningbo in China as a gesture of goodwill by the City of Nottingham and the University of Nottingham and in return Nottingham received the two statues of Chinese lions which now stand in the grounds of Highfields Park on the University campus. Robin was also involved in an anti-fracking campaign in the Sherwood Forest area and subtly referred to in a billboard advertising campaign for a national tyre and maintenance organisation that used the phrase “These days, not all local heroes wear green tights!” Even broadcaster and presenter, Jeremy Vine, included a reference to Robin Hood in his column for Radio Times related to his “Strictly Come Dancing” experiences!

The past year has proved to be a particularly successful one for the World Wide Robin Hood Society that included a revealing response from the local business community to the Robin Hood Business Survey which appeared to result in a marked increase in the awareness and subsequent use of the Robin Hood “brand” by many local groups, organisations and companies. The Society also introduced its “Feather In Your Cap” Awards, which are presented to companies and organisations to acknowledge the effective use of Robin Hood-related connections in business, marketing and promotional practice and published a Brand Awareness Guide to outline some of the many ways in which the rest of the world used Robin Hood to their advantage and encourage local business and organisations to consider making more of the City and County’s legendary associations.

So with a New Year on the horizon, what has the Society got planned for 2016? Well, in January, it will roll out the “Find Robin Hood!” initiative and ask the general public to help with a new research project to establish the true extent of the Robin Hood legend’s UK and international influence. The Society has enlisted the help of the current Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Mohammed Saghir and wants everyone to be on the lookout for any instances where Robin Hood’s name is being used, along with other names associated with the legend, such as Little John, Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest.

The Society will also be taking stock of exactly where the Robin Hood issue currently stands in the eyes of the public and the world by publishing a “Robin Hood Reality Check” that brings together a collection of facts, quotations and statements that put the legend’s diverse connections into perspective – a miscellany of interesting comment that offers some retrospective and thought-provoking viewpoints for reference when any future proposals are being considered.

On a more general Robin Hood front, further details are anticipated in 2016 on how the major improvements being planned at both Nottingham Castle and the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre intend to incorporate Robin Hood within their proposals to meet the inevitable high level of visitor expectation and answer the frequent criticism that not enough is done to fully capitalise on the potential economic benefits of the City and County’s links to the iconic global legend.

The Society will also be looking into the viability of staging “The Art of Robin Hood” exhibition, a wide ranging collection of visual art and illustrative design associated with the famous Sherwood Forest outlaw that reflects some of the many ways in which the legend has established Robin Hood as a leading global icon of Popular Culture. Displaying film posters ,promotional banners , examples of fine and contemporary art works, book covers and original literary illustrations, comics and graphic novels, toys, games and branded packaging designs, movie and television props and memorabilia, vinyl album covers, CD’s, video cassettes, DVD’s, inn signs and commercial advertising images- the exhibition has the potential to be a colourful and revealing extravaganza that clearly demonstrates just how the legend has passionately captured hearts and minds the world over.

The hugely popular Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest and the Robin Hood Pageant and Beer Festival at Nottingham Castle will no doubt notch-up another successful annual event in 2016 to celebrate the local association with the legend and the Society will also be announcing the next round of winners of their “Feather in Your Cap” Awards.

To help keep the Robin Hood associations with the area in focus and share information and marketing ideas, the Robin Hood Liaison Group meets two or three times a year to look at event and publicity coordination and includes communications, public relations, marketing and promotional representatives from the City and County councils, Experience Nottinghamshire and the World Wide Robin Hood Society.

Following suggestions referred to in the Society’s “Robin Hood Brand Awareness Guide” that was published in support of their 2015 Business Survey, other initiatives currently being developed are a Robin Hood Reading List/Legendary Learning Project for schools and educational purposes and the production of some quality souvenirs to potentially fill a gap in the market for corporate and presentational items.        

In the final pages of their book, “Robin Hood – Man or Myth”, authors and historical researchers Graham Phillips and Martin Yeatman conclude that Robin Hood is a folk hero and symbol that transcends national boundaries and that “Robin has come to symbolise justice, freedom from oppression and the struggle against tyranny in all its forms” together with “the sense that the actions of the common man are worthy and, on occasion, able to influence the course of human events.” How significantly important those principles still are in dealing with the current global issues of the modern world!!

In today’s information technology driven world, perhaps surprisingly, the Robin Hood legend can more that hold its own and when, as part of its 2015 Business Survey research, the World Wide Robin Hood Society carried out a snapshot check on the number of Google references relating to the key characters and places associated with the Robin Hood legend, it came to a staggering 1,356,011,000 in total!

The wide-ranging global interest in Robin Hood and the sheer scope of its connections can at times also make the legend seem like a runaway train that threatens to get somewhat out of control! When several years ago, the Society first secured the Twitter account for the Robin Hood name, it quickly became apparent that the 24/7 activity it generated would almost require a mini call centre to cope with the potential demand and so, with only already stretched limited resources at their disposal, the Society were willing, when asked, to temporarily loan the name to Oxfam’s high profile Robin Hood Tax Campaign.

However, during its 17 year existence the Society has moved away from its original enthusiast based membership to become a comprehensive network of Robin Hood related contacts and broad interests in “all things Robin Hood” and has subsequently established itself as one of the leading websites that is used extensively by the media, researchers and commercial interests etc.. Consequently, one of the biggest challenges facing the Society in the year ahead is how to effectively harness the considerable social media interest in the legend that already exists and is constantly on the increase? Fortunately, having been originally co-founded and sponsored by a business entrepreneur with specific interests and experience in the I.T. and communications fields, the Society hope to have the skills and understanding on hand to help formulate a solution when they take a serious look at the issue early in 2016.