‘It was a social lifeline’ - local people still reeling from loss of Budgens in Holt

The damage after the devastating fire at Budgens of Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The damage after the devastating fire at Budgens of Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Two weeks after a devastating fire destroyed Holt’s only supermarket, local people have spoken of the real impact it is having on the town.

North Norfolk District Council leader, Sarah Bütikofer, and councillor Richard Kershaw, discuss aidi

North Norfolk District Council leader, Sarah Bütikofer, and councillor Richard Kershaw, discuss aiding the town after the Budgens of Holt fire. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

On June 20, Budgens, which had served the town for more than 30 years, was destroyed by a fire.

The blaze left the town with no supermarket, with the nearest one being in Sheringham, seven miles away.

Fire at Budgens in Holt Picture: Lee Smith

Fire at Budgens in Holt Picture: Lee Smith - Credit: Archant

Over the last two weeks residents have reflected on the loss of the supermarket, described as a “social lifeline” and a place “full of community spirit”.

Marie Charnock, who lives in the town, said: “We need more than one supermarket at affordable prices and an open market weekly like Fakenham and Sheringham.

Eliza Gray Ladies Clothing based in Feathers Yard, Holt. Picture: Eliza Gray

Eliza Gray Ladies Clothing based in Feathers Yard, Holt. Picture: Eliza Gray - Credit: Archant


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“For those people that can’t travel to Fakenham and Sheringham but can buy products from local suppliers, other than the ones in Holt.”

Josie Read said: “Not only was Budgens easy to get to for every day essentials, it was observing the social distancing so felt safe.

Holt Mayor Rodney Smith. Pictures: Holt Town Council

Holt Mayor Rodney Smith. Pictures: Holt Town Council - Credit: Archant

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“Even with fewer customers at present there was always someone to have a chat to. We all knew each other and it was a social lifeline for so many residents.”

Wendy Gray, owner of Eliza Gray Ladies Clothing based in Feathers Yard, said: “It is dreadful, we have lost footfall due to the fire and it has been catastrophic for business.

The Makers Market in Apple Yard, Holt. Picture: Rodney Smith

The Makers Market in Apple Yard, Holt. Picture: Rodney Smith - Credit: Archant

“I’m having to move part of my business online to make sure I don’t lose it.”

Just days after the blaze a pop-up post office was launched in Bakers and Larners, Holt Youth Project and local businesses came together to help the town’s most vulnerable and a Crowdfunder page raised more than £7,000 for the supermarket.

Iain Wilson, Love Holt and Aviva Leigh Curator of the Makers Market. Picture: Rodney Smith

Iain Wilson, Love Holt and Aviva Leigh Curator of the Makers Market. Picture: Rodney Smith - Credit: Archant

Town mayor Rodney Smith said: “Despite the devastating fire at Budgens, Holt is open for business.

“North Norfolk District Council, Love Holt and the town council have provided additional support as and when needed. Further support has come from across the community through the many voluntary organisations that make Holt so special.

“A Makers Market, organised by Love Holt, is now running every Sunday through July and August based in Apple Yard and will also be in parts of the Budgens car park going forward.

“This will support many of the local suppliers who would like to continue to serve the community over the next few months.”

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