Funding to “enthuse” Harleston traders

Traders at a Norfolk market town are set to get an 'enthusiasm injection' as part of a project aimed at boosting business and tourism.

Shopkeepers in Harleston will be recruited as ambassadors for their town during the Local Heroes scheme that has received more than �30,000 of funding.

The initiative, which has been commissioned by the town council, will involve a series of free seminars over the next six months that will aim to keep visitors in Harleston for longer and provide a boost to the local economy.

Town leaders secured �27,000 from the Waveney Valley Local Action Group (LAG), which was awarded more than �3m of European money last year to boost the economies of seven market towns on the Norfolk-Suffolk border – Beccles, Bungay, Diss, Eye, Harleston, Halesworth, and Loddon.

The Harleston scheme, which also received �9,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, will aim to equip business people with the knowledge and motivation to 'positively infect' others to benefit the economy of the Waveney Valley.

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The series of free courses, which began last week, include seminars on local art, the Norfolk dialect, local heritage and history, marketing, customer service, map reading and visitor direction.

For two weeks in November, an empty shop in Bullock Fair Close will be turned into the 'Creative Kitchen' where local chefs and food experts will be giving demonstrations and residents will be invited to share their family recipes and take part in a community competition to find the best recipe for leftover Christmas turkey.

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Sally Williams, of Retail Revival, who is coordinating the Local Heroes project, said traders could help themselves by knowing the art, food, culture and heritage that Harleston had to offer. She added that she visited some businesses during the summer and asked traders what she could do in the area and was told to go to the seaside or Diss.

'The programme aims to get local people enthused about the town they live in to enthuse visitors and local people and keep them in the town longer.'

'It does seem to be a nice town, but they [traders] are not supporting the town and not telling people how nice it is and what they can do,' she said.

The project will culminate in a competition to win �1,000 where participants will be tested on their customer service and local knowledge.

Margot Harbour, town clerk, said the town council was 'absolutely thrilled' to be the first to benefit from Waveney Valley LAG funding.

For more information, please telephone Sally Williams on 07889 173101 or email

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