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How Sheringham sinkhole exposed the coastal community's deep soul

PUBLISHED: 22:14 18 August 2019 | UPDATED: 22:14 18 August 2019

RSPCA charity shop manager Julie Spooner shows off her 'I've seen the Sheringham sinkhole' tee shirts to Public Sewer Services site manager Gavin Read (left) and Anglian Water supervisor James Dobie, who are working on repairing the sinkhole in High Street.
Picture: KAREN BETHELL

RSPCA charity shop manager Julie Spooner shows off her 'I've seen the Sheringham sinkhole' tee shirts to Public Sewer Services site manager Gavin Read (left) and Anglian Water supervisor James Dobie, who are working on repairing the sinkhole in High Street. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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Here is the uplifting story of a town that turned a sinkhole into a goldmine.

The news these days is often so bleak and depressing that I think we forget to highlight a good situation when it arises. Here is the uplifting story of a town that turned a sinkhole into a goldmine.

I lived in Sheringham for over 20 years of my life, I've worked in the pubs, a restaurant, cafés and ice cream shops, I think the only job I haven't had is a candlestick maker I even worked at Crofters, the restaurant that found itself in the centre of the whirlwind that was the Sheringham sinkhole. I feared for Terry and family, as did everyone else in community hoping that the damage wasn't so severe that it would swallow the restaurant whole. The sinkhole grew and grew and at its largest reached 7ft wide and 26ft deep. Luckily the restaurant was spared and the local people came together to ensure Crofters was fully booked when it reopened its doors.

No storm, supermarket chain or sinkhole has every held back the locals from rallying together with a sense of humour and flair for creativity. When the sinkhole first appeared the people of Sheringham did what they always do and that was to keep calm and carry on. Businesses took to the streets, quite literally, spreading into the roads offering al fresco dining and outdoor displays. 
The town council covered the streets with 'Business Open As Usual' signs up and down the 
high street and even here at the EDP we rallied behind a campaign to let people know Sheringham was open for business.

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In any other town a sinkhole bang in the middle of your high street might mean major setbacks for local business but Sheringham embraced the hole as an attraction.

"I visited the Sheringham sinkhole" T-shirts were being sold in shops. A toyshop even displays an adorable recreation of the sinkhole in its window. Local photographer Chris Taylor used his photo and drone skills to show a bird's eye view of the hole. A video of which went viral online with support from all over Norfolk flowing in. The whole situation really touched the hearts of people up and down the county.

Many feared the hole would interfere with the many summer events calendar but the Potty Morris festival danced around the hole, the town races roared ahead and the whole carnival went on without a hitch. Many people are saying that the high street has been busier ever with the sinkhole that became an attraction and the temporary pedestrianisation of the high street. Access on foot has been easier as people can spread out without the fear of being hit by a car. The high street looked more appealing with benches, tables and umbrellas up and down the street, it was all quite quaint. The whole situation was very admiral able.

With coastal towns struggling due to second home buyers and retirement complexes popping up every five minutes, I think it's more important now than ever before to preserve our beautiful coastal towns. We have and support the local people and businesses by listening to their needs and pull together when needed.

I really tip my hat off to the community of Sheringham for owning the sinkhole situation and making it their sinkhole. It's refreshing to see a community working together to overcome a problem instead of argue about it.

Sheringham truly is the definition of a community.

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