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Has Robin Hood Got Too Big For His Boots?

Bob White, chairman of the World Wide Robin Hood Society, takes a look at how much the Robin Hood "brand" is really worth!

THE Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest has just celebrated its 30th year, and once again we have seen how the story of his adventures captures young children's imagination as they chase through the shrubbery in their green felt hats, waving their wooden swords and bows with rubber-tipped arrows.
All the principles and qualities that the outlaw hero stands for have come to mean so much more, however, and around the world Robin's name has been adopted, adapted, manipulated and developed in a variety of ways to reflect his role as a universal champion of the oppressed.
You only have to go on the internet to see just how extensive his influence is. Google comes up with over 16 million results for 'Robin Hood' but that barely scratches the surface of what is really out there.
So just how big is the Robin Hood legend – and what is it really worth to the local economy?
To try to determine this, I made some comparative studies with other places that had associations with celebrated famous figures, and found that the majority of their data was actually extrapolated from visitor numbers recorded through accommodation, attractions and travel statistics.
In Stratford-on-Avon, for example, the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust estimated that in 2012 Shakespeare-related activities alone had contributed some £45m to Stratford's visitor economy.
Meanwhile Warwickshire and Staffordshire County Councils said their estimated combined value for day visitors and overnight stays was £582m and £687m respectively – and that the majority of this volume was influenced by the Shakespeare connection.
Closer to home, Experience Nottinghamshire stated in 2011, that the Russell Crowe 'Robin Hood' film had generated £9m of spin-offs for the county.
Scotland appear to have produced the most in-depth valuation exercise – they commissioned a National Audit and Economic Impact Study on the value of the poet Robert Burns, and in 2005 estimated his brand to be worth £157 million annually to the Scottish economy.
Based on these figures, I would conservatively estimate that the Robin Hood brand could be worth at least £300m-£350m to the Notts economy.
Ironically, however, Robin Hood just may have grown too big for his boots - making his legend and its subsequent influences somewhat hard to handle.
It is my own belief that the extensive scale and diversity, which the Robin Hood legend now embraces is one of the main reasons why the city and county currently have no major Robin Hood related visitor attraction. Quite simply, the numerous aspects and connections associated with the legend make it extremely difficult to comprehensively provide an experience that meets all the wide, general expectations of the visiting public.
Our Sherwood hero may not have Richard III's legitimacy of unequivocal historic proof; but I can recall that when local Robin Hood expert, the late Jim Lees, was quizzed about Robin he would ask the enquirer if they wanted the truth or the legend. And nine times out of 10 they would say "the legend!

Over the last 15 years, the World Wide Robin Hood Society has been collating a wealth of information about Robin's impact.
And the sheer scale, extent and diversity of the areas and issues that the Robin Hood legend has managed to embrace are quite staggering.
They range from the academic, historical viewpoints of the American University of Rochester's digital Robin Hood Project, to the simple down-to-earth enjoyment of 'The Green Velvet Outlaws of Sherwood' – a women's 'Rapper Sword' dance team, who enter traditional folk dance competitions.
There are big corporate organisations like New York City's charitable Robin Hood Foundation, medium ones like the Robin Hood Flour Company in Ontario, and small enterprises like the tiny launderette in Florida that bears his name.
In Spain's Lloret de Mar, there's a Robin Hood Fun Pub, at the Walibi Holland amusement park in The Netherlands you will find a Robin Hood Rollercoaster, there's a Robin Hood Land in Donnerswachbald, Austria... the list just goes on and on and on.
Town planners seem to have a particular fondness for Robin, from Logan City in Queensland, Australia, which has roads such as Friar Street and Sheriff Road, to Kingston-on-Thames where there are lots of Robin Hood-themed roads despite there being no real connection to the outlaw.
There is a big housing estate in Tower Hamlets called Robin Hood Gardens.
And transport seems to hold an attraction as well, with a railway line, airport and at least one ferry bearing the Robin Hood name.