Sheringham couple wait to see if their beach hut on storm shattered site is a national winner
- Credit: Archant
A Sheringham couple whose pride-and-joy beach hut was destroyed by the 2013 tidal surges will soon find out whether its designer-style replacement has been named best seaside shed in Britain.
When Jon and Laine Ellery's much-loved hut on the town's east promenade was completely flattened during the December 2013 storms, miraculously, a row of bone china mugs survived, left hanging from their hooks surrounded by the shattered wooden hut and its smashed contents.
But, after taking five years to get to the top of North Norfolk District Council's beach hut waiting list, the couple were determined not to be beaten by the sea and, after receiving an insurance payout, set to work decking out a new hut with a tranquil blue and white theme.
Former London policeman Mr Ellery, who is a company director with an offshore investment consultancy firm, put his name down for a hut after he and Mrs Ellery moved to Sheringham eight years ago.
'On holiday as a child, my parents hired a beach hut every day and whether it was thunder and lightning or freezing cold we were there, so it was something I always wanted to have for myself,' he explained.
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But, just months after the couple finally got to the top of the list and bought a hut – which interior design fan Mrs Ellery fitted out with an all-yellow theme – it was destroyed by the sea.
'It was awful,' Mrs Ellery said. 'I came down the following morning and it was just absolute devastation. Everything was smashed to pieces except the four cups with not a chip between them.
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'We couldn't believe it as, 10 months later, we found a piece of the net curtain from our beach hut near Cromer pier while we were out walking.'
Their new hut – which they have named Salty Paws in honour of their rotweiller, cocker spaniel and seven rescued French bulldogs – has been designed by Mrs Ellery with a 'New England feel'.
As well as decorative coloured buoys, bunting and cushions, the blue and white striped hut has a mini cooker, sea-themed shelving and photograph frames, lantern and life ring ornaments, and signs with slogans ranging from 'Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses' to, 'Waves this Way'.
There is also storage for giant beanbags, a table and a windbreak, which the couple use when sitting on the prom, with the rescued mugs taking pride of place on an oar-style cup hook stretching along one of the wooden walls.
'We love it,' Mrs Ellery said. 'It's lovely to sit and watch the surfers and people fishing off the rocks and we have used it for birthday parties – including one for a friend's new rescue dog.'
In a few weeks, the Ellerys will find out if their hut - which has reached a shortlist of 12 in national beach hut competition run by Towergate Insurance and the Sunday Times newspaper.
First prize is £1,000, plus a year's insurance, and a visit from Location, Location, Location presenter Phil Spencer, who is on the judging panel.
'I only really entered for a laugh, but it would be lovely to win,' Mr Ellery said.