Rugby stars Balshaw and Allen swap England caps for Roman helmets

Gloucester rugby internationals Iain Balshaw and Anthony Allen swapped their England caps for Roman centurions’ helmets to join two stunning models in a photo shoot to promote their adopted city.

Iain and Anthony volunteered to act as models in Roman costume for a marketing campaign to promote Gloucester as a major tourism, leisure and retail destination in the South West.

They posed with professional models Cassie Odqvist and Rochelle Wood in Gloucester’s Eastgate Street Roman ruins, acting out a tableau from the city’s ancient past.

The resulting images are to be blown up into huge posters tailored to fill the windows of empty shops in Gloucester, brightening the city centre and making it more attractive for residents and visitors alike.

This shoot was the first in a series, forming a pictorial time line, charting the history of the city from its origins as a Roman fort, up to the development of the jet engine by Sir Frank Whittle there in the 20th Century.

The second shoot will take place at Blackfriars Priory on Wednesday, March 4, with professional models acting out the parts of Dominican monks and nuns. The third, depicting the Coronation of Henry III in Gloucester Cathedral, will be on March 23.

The scheme was the brainchild of Moose Marketing & PR.

“Iain and Anthony’s involvement has a special relevance as the Gloucester rugby ground at Kingsholm sits on the site of the original Roman fort founded around AD48,” said Mark Owen.

“And, although they are more used to facing up to a London Saracen than a Roman princess, they behaved like true pros on the day and I have to say the results are stunning.

“Unfortunately, empty shops are a feature of most city centres nowadays. We just want to take a more positive approach.”

“The whole point of the exercise is to make the city centre more welcoming for visitors and also to promote a greater sense of residents’ pride in their historical and cultural heritage.”

Chris Oldershaw, chief executive of Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company (GHURC), the organisation driving the City’s £1 billion regeneration programme, and a founding Board Member of Gloucester Marketing, said: “Gloucester’s £1 billion regeneration is based on using its rich heritage to build a city fit for the 21st century. This campaign scores a try for the city, as well as a conversion by using the windows of temporarily empty shops as head-turning billboards.”