The stunning Tweedside town also won £15,000 for the local community in the government-run competition, at a ceremony in Edinburgh, attended by High Streets minister Jake Berry MP.
Commended for its understanding of the community and drive to innovate, Kelso took the UK title ahead of streets in Stockton-on-Tees in England, Caernarfon in Wales and Newry in Northern Ireland.
Tina Newton, of Border Cookware in Kelso, nominated the high street for the Rising Star Award after the town managed to increase footfall despite cuts to services.
To make sure the community continues to thrive, it aims to launch a bespoke app to promote a variety of events, activities, businesses and organisations in order to raise awareness and, ultimately, to drive continued footfall to the area.
Within the app will be a bespoke area guide, as well as an interactive PDF linking to the Visit Kelso website and individual business websites. Social media integration and aligned promotional material has been considered for maximum reach and impact across channels.
The initiative offers promotion and mutual benefit for other businesses and local events to drive consumer engagement and interest from within and outside the area.
Tina said: “We are delighted to be recognised as Rising Star of the Year.
“The award is testament to the hard work of our community team in encouraging people back to the high street through innovation and customer experience.
“We are excited to deliver the initiatives during the year ahead and are extremely thankful to the Great British High Street Awards and Visa for the opportunity”
Eight high streets, two from each Home Nation, also won Great British High Street Awards in the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories, winning £5,000 for community initiatives.
The overall winners in each category win an extra £10,000 for their community.
High Street Heroes – those individuals who have gone above and beyond for their local high street – were also recognised, winning a £2,500 grant
The full list of winners is as follows:
Rising Star of the Year: The Square, Kelso
Rising Star High Streets:
England: Yarm High Street, Stockton-on-Tees
Scotland: The Square, Kelso
Wales: Palace Street, Caernarfon
Northern Ireland: Newry City Centre, Newry
Jeni Mundy, managing director UK & Ireland for sponsors Visa commended the community of Kelso, saying: “The Square in Kelso is a fantastic example of a community that has made huge strides in transforming its high street to significantly improve the experience for locals and visitors alike and why it was crowned this year’s overall Rising Star high street.
“The Square showcases a clear understanding of its community and drive to innovate to help the high street thrive.
“Visa’s research reveals four in five Scottish shoppers (82%) say that a thriving high street makes a town or village a more appealing destination, underlining why we all need to get behind our local businesses.”
And Mr Berry added: “Every place has its own unique strengths and challenges, but all our town centres and high streets have one thing in common – they are the beating heart of our communities.
“The Great British High Street Awards celebrate the grit and determination of local people who are dedicated to supporting their communities, growing their local economy and finding innovative solutions to modern day challenges.
“Today in Edinburgh I saw the very best of our high streets and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all of this year’s winners and to give my personal thanks to the individuals and communities helping to build the future of the high street. I am delighted to see such strong examples of thriving high streets from every nation in our United Kingdom.”
For details on all the winners, visit: www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk