A NEW director with experience in turning a spotlight onto heritage sites has been chosen to take over the reins at a group boosting business in Southampton.

Stephen Manion, who has taken over as Executive Director at business improvement district Go! Southampton, has experience in wooing Hollywood.

He was formerly a manager at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland when it was used as a shooting location for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter movies.

Stephen has spent the majority of his career working as a consultant and "transforming heritage locations into popular attractions".

Locations he has worked at include Woburn Abbey, the Canal and River Trust and Drumlanrig Castle in South West Scotland.

READ MORE: City of Culture 2025: What next for Southampton?

He now wants to push groups in Southampton to continue working together after the city recently lost out on becoming UK City of Culture 2025.

Stephen said said: "The process of entering the UK City of Culture competition has been tremendous for Southampton and it's given a huge boost to the city's profile and highlighted the value in the city's leaders and stakeholders collaborating for the greater good.

"Go! Southampton represents over 630 levy payers made up of business representatives from a range of sectors across the city and has a host of responsibilities but one of the main roles is to create an environment where our members can thrive."

Stephen worked at the castle in Northumberland when Warner Bros wanted to film there more than 20 years ago.

A bonus of the Harry Potter years was that one of his sons, Chris, then ten, was cast as an extra in the first film.

Tim Keeping, Chair of GO! Southampton said: "Stephen brings with him vast experience and is a very able successor to Giles Semper, who led the team which secured an emphatic 'Yes' vote in November 2021, giving Go! Southampton a strong mandate for another five-year term.

"Stephen's credentials are second to none and we all look forward to working with him."

GO! Southampton is the business improvement district for Southampton city centre.

Funded and led by local businesses, it is using its five-year term to implement a range of initiatives that will create a greater city-centre experience, deliver better marketing and events and develop stronger business.

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