Remembering our campaign to keep Colman’s in Norwich
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
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.
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'.
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'.
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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.
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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.
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.