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Remembering our campaign to keep Colman's in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 14:43 04 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 04 January 2018

Norwich City football shirts with the Colman's logo. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City football shirts with the Colman's logo. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Following October's announcements that Unilever and Britvic could leave Norwich, the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News launched and led a rallying cry to save them.

Just a few of the signed slips for the They Must Be Saved campaign to save Colman's and Britvic factories in the Eastern Daily Press and the Norwich Evening News. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJust a few of the signed slips for the They Must Be Saved campaign to save Colman's and Britvic factories in the Eastern Daily Press and the Norwich Evening News. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Our They Must Be Saved campaign had two aims: to safeguard the nearly 350 jobs at risk at the factories; and to preserve the long relationship the fine city has with Colman’s Mustard.

It posited that the jobs and the products the factories made – which includes another historic Norwich brand, Robinsons – “must remain in Norwich where they belong”.

Roberto Cimelli, owner of Presto, puts the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News poster to support the campaign to save Colman's Mustard and Robinson's in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRoberto Cimelli, owner of Presto, puts the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News poster to support the campaign to save Colman's Mustard and Robinson's in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The petition struck a chord with the city, gaining 10,000 signatures in its first week online and via paper forms. Posters sprung up in shop and house windows, proclaiming the cause and asking others to show their support.

It was a campaign which crossed political boundaries, with Norfolk MPs including Elizabeth Truss, Brandon Lewis, Norman Lamb and Norwich MPs Clive Lewis and Chloe Smith all throwing their weight behind it. They called it a “crucial” effort to save an “iconic brand”.

Reporter Jake Massey on the streets of Norwich to get the EDP and Norwich Evening News petition signed to keep Colman's Mustard and Robinson's factory in Norwich. Gillian England signing the petition.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYReporter Jake Massey on the streets of Norwich to get the EDP and Norwich Evening News petition signed to keep Colman's Mustard and Robinson's factory in Norwich. Gillian England signing the petition. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The campaign was even raised in the European Parliament, where East of England MEP Alex Mayer called on Unilever to come up with “new plans and reassurances”.

Norfolk chef Charlie Hodson was among well-known local personalities to join the fight, saying his home county must hold on to what he called the “inspirational brand” of Colman’s Mustard.

Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, signing the EDP's petition to keep Britvic and Unilever in Norwich. Picture: StaffElizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, signing the EDP's petition to keep Britvic and Unilever in Norwich. Picture: Staff

A match between Norwich City and Hull City at Carrow Road less than two weeks after the announcement was made gave us another chance to promote our message, with fans encouraged to wear their Colman’s-sponsored Canaries shirts from Unilever’s four-year sponsorship of the team in the late 1990s.

Hundreds turned out in their vintage tops, proudly sporting the name of the much-loved condiment on their chests.

Charlie Hodson, executive chef at Woodforde's Fur and Feather Inn at Woodbastwick, is backing the EDP Colman's Mustard campaign. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYCharlie Hodson, executive chef at Woodforde's Fur and Feather Inn at Woodbastwick, is backing the EDP Colman's Mustard campaign. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

It formed part of a day of action which saw petitions at EDP/Evening News stands around the city, comments collected, supportive tweets posted and photographs shared.

While in the end we were unable to stop the death knell for these companies, the EDP and Evening News would like to thank all those who gave their support to the campaign.

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