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Sheringham is Open For Business campaign: Highlightling the town's unique mix of independent shops

PUBLISHED: 17:36 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:43 14 June 2019

Craft Bakery owner Mervyn Thomas, whose shop is just metres from the Sheringham sinkhole. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Craft Bakery owner Mervyn Thomas, whose shop is just metres from the Sheringham sinkhole. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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As part of our Sheringham is Open for Business campaign, we are focusing on some of the traders affected by the sinkhole. KAREN BETHELL spoke to Craft Bakery owner, Mervyn Thomas...

Engineers are digging eight metres underground to repair a damaged sewage pipe below the Sheringham sinkhole. 
Picture: KAREN BETHELLEngineers are digging eight metres underground to repair a damaged sewage pipe below the Sheringham sinkhole. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

With his shop just metres from the Sheringham sinkhole, Mervyn Thomas has felt a 30pc drop in trade.

Engineers are digging eight metres underground to repair a damaged sewage pipe below the Sheringham sinkhole. 
Picture: KAREN BETHELLEngineers are digging eight metres underground to repair a damaged sewage pipe below the Sheringham sinkhole. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Normally used to selling more than 500 loaves and up to 7,000 bread rolls a day, he is baking significantly less, with sales of cakes and sandwiches also down as a result of a drop in passing trade.

However, determined to make the most of a difficult situation, he says his thoughts are with the owners of Crofters Restaurant and Straits fish and chip shop, which are still closed because of safety concerns.

Engineers are digging eight metres underground to repair a damaged sewage pipe below the Sheringham sinkhole. 
Picture: KAREN BETHELLEngineers are digging eight metres underground to repair a damaged sewage pipe below the Sheringham sinkhole. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

"I think you have to be positive and I feel very lucky to be open," he said.

"I am also very fortunate to have wholesale customers who keep me ticking over, and of course the workmen coming in for sandwiches also helps."

After leaving school aged 14, Mr Thomas worked at an upmarket Italian bakery in his home town of Shrewsbury, learning his trade on the job, as well as spending time training at a college in Switzerland.

After a spell as a supermarket bakery manager in Cornwall, he and his wife Caroline decided to up sticks again in the early 1980s, and moved to West Runton, where Mr Thomas ran Suzanne's Bakery in the village.

He joined long-standing Sheringham bakers Craske's a couple of years later and, 19 years ago, took over the business and renamed it the Craft Bakery.

Renowned for its delicious, diet-busting cream cakes, the shop has since grown to become a popular haunt among locals and visitors alike.

A true family affair, the bakery and shop is managed by Mr Thomas's daughter Kate, with his wife Caroline doing the accounts and son Steven and other daughters Laura and Sophie also helping out.

Oldest son Paul and his partner Laura Whyte run Bond Street Bakery and Huckleberries cafe, in Cromer.

In spite of a brush with his own mortality when his family were called to his hospital bedside to say their goodbyes after he suffered a stroke in the shop three years ago, Mr Thomas, 67, maintains his positive attitude and strong work ethic.

"Trade is down and the wet weather hasn't helped, but you just have to get on with it," he said. "And although it is very unfortunate what has happened with the sinkhole, we want to tell people to keep coming down High Street for their fresh cream cakes, we are still very much open!"

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