Weekly market scoops top national award

Jill Skinner, mayor, and Richard Bishop, town clerk, at Swaffham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jill Skinner, mayor, and Richard Bishop, town clerk, in front of Swaffham's Market Place. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

The saying certainly does not apply to Swaffham's weekly market, which despite being more than 800 years old has just won national 'small market team' award.  

The  National Association of British Market Authorities (Nabma) has just named Swaffham's Saturday market as its category winner for 2020, after a brilliant effort by organisers and traders which means the market is still operating for food and essential goods, even through the latest lockdown.  

Jill Skinner, town mayor, said the market's superintendent, Ruth Ostler, and chairman Fabian Eagle had done their town proud. 

Mrs Skinner said: "We're absolutely delighted to provide a safe market for the town during this time. A lot of work has gone into it, and we had volunteers come down to help with the marshalling. 

"People seem to have taken the whole thing on board and acted sensibly. Swaffham has such a vibrant market and in normal times people come from quite a long way away to go for a meander around the market." 

Swaffham market committee chairman Fabian Eagle. 

Swaffham market committee chairman Fabian Eagle. - Credit: Supplied by Swaffham Town Council

Swaffham market committee chairman Fabian Eagle said: ‘I am delighted and feel honoured that the team have won this award. 
“It goes to show what you can achieve with good team work. Thank you to Liz Truss for nominating us and for all involved, keeping the market open and as safe as possible. This award is well deserved recognition for the market team and Swaffham, Norfolk’s market town.”

Swaffham's Saturday market has won an award for innovation. 

Swaffham's Saturday market has won an award for innovation. - Credit: Archant

In its announcement, Nabma said 2020 had been a big for Swaffham's market, which had initially closed during the lockdown. 

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The group said: "Due to the wishes of the shopping public the market committee devised a plan to implement a change of layout, one-way system, washing stations, etc. 

"One market committee member even donated PPE for use by all visitors to the market.  On each market day the committee members turned out as volunteers to support the market superintendent and help manage the new layout."

The market team was approached by the Cabinet Office for a film showing how markets can operate safely and effectively.

Nabma said: "This market team has shown leadership, commitment and the unstinting work of individuals and volunteers has ensured that the market has continued and thrived."

In normal times, Swaffham's market has more than 30 regular stalls including fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, cheeses and eggs, housewares, collectibles, jewellery, silver,  clothes, hardware, tools, bric-a-brac and plants.

The market committee comprises of a group of town councillors and trader representatives

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