COUNTDOWN co-presenter Rachel Riley was the guest of honour at the launch of a council campaign to boost local trade.

Rachel, 23, who was born in Rochford and lives in Thorpe Bay, attended the launch of Rochford District Council’s Shop at My Local campaign.

The campaign includes a range of different projects and events to attract people to the main shopping areas in the district, including Rayleigh, Rochford and Hockley.  This week, the project website – – went live for traders to sign up and join the scheme.

Those who do will be able to use the website to upload exclusive vouchers which residents can print off to get discounts in their shops.

Participating shopkeepers will sign up to a pledge promising a high level of customer service, aim to use locally-sourced produce, support a cleaner and greener community and make sure shop fronts are spotless.

Rachel, a former Southend High School for Girls pupil, said: “As a local girl I think it’s important for people to support our homegrown businesses and shopkeepers. I’m pleased to support initiatives such as Shop At My Local.”

The project has been put together by the district council, working with town and parish councils and local businesses groups.

It aims to encourage residents to discover local products and to help sustain the district’s traders which in turn will help safeguard local jobs.

One of the aims is to see off the threats to town centres of out–of–town supermarkets and internet shopping, as well as the recession.

Rachel was joined at the launch by council leader Terry Cutmore and chairman Tony Humphries as well as representatives from the local chambers of trade, parish and town councils and the Essex Federation for Small Businesses.

Mr Cutmore said: “We are pleased to welcome Rachel to Rochford for the launch of Shop At My Local.

“The scheme will have many benefits for both local businesses and shoppers and is just one of the many ways we are trying to help local businesses, not just during these tough economic times, but also in the future.”

Rachel, who graduated from Oxford University with a degree in mathematics, has been co-hosting the cult, long-running Channel 4 show since January and has proved a big hit with viewers.

On September 1, Shop At My Local will be launched for residents to take part and sign up to the scheme.

The website has a directory of all the local businesses that have signed up to the pledge and information on each of the district’s shopping areas.