Monday, 6 July 2020

The Night Holt Came To A Halt

During the Foulsham church-conference-call a fortnight ago, my friend Jane was leading the prayers. She prayed for "the people of Holt, and all those affected by the fire at Budgens last night". On the previous evening [June 20th] this small market town in north Norfolk lost its only supermarket in a devastating fire. Fortunately nobody was injured in the blaze[cause as yet unknown] 
This town has 4000 residents, and nearly 50% of them are aged 65+.  The supermarket was really important for them - and also housed the town's Post Office. It stood just behind the main street for over 30 years.  An independent store, it stocked local produce[Cromer Crabs, fresh flowers etc] and also raised thousands of pounds for local charities. 
Holt may appear to be an upmarket well-heeled town  - Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is fond of dining at Byfords], and Greshams the nearby boarding school has just had an £18.5m gift from for alumnus James Dyson to build a new science block. But not everyone is wealthy, there is a food bank, and a large area of social housing. Many people relied on Budgens for their good value food, because specialist local food stores were too expensive. 
During the lockdown, staff worked incredibly hard to get food delivered to their more vulnerable customers. There was genuine anxiety the day after the conflagration. 
But people have rallied round. There is a pop-up Post Office in one store, some of the independent specialist food shops are stocking basic items [B&J Seafood store currently sells fruit and veg too] and the townsfolk are doing their best to maintain food supplies to the elderly and those shielding. 
One in 50 of the residents was an employee - everybody knows somebody who worked there. In less than a fortnight £7000 was raised to support the 80+ workers who've lost their livelihood. There's a sense of sadness in the town. You don't expect that over the loss of a supermarket. But this was the biggest Budgens in the UK, "delivering local food to local people" and keeping food prices low [matching those in Tesco] and it benefitted so many people. 
I'm sure they will be up and running again as soon as they can. I wish them success. We've often called in on journeys to and from the coast, and staff were always friendly, and the shelves filled with good produce. 
There is a strong community spirit, and that's what's needed right now. Jane was right to remind us to pray for the people affected. [Read more about this story here.] 


  1. The Baker family will do their utmost to have it rebuilt and up and running again as quickly as possible. The wonderful, young, North Norfolk MP, my friend's nephew, Duncan Baker, is a member oaf the Baker family and they are all devastated but they will get it going again, He, and his family work tirelessly for the people of Holt and North Norfolk through business and trade and enterprise, the backbone of the British economy.

    1. Good to read this positive response to the sad news

  2. I truly hope it was not arson. Good news that nobody was hurt except for the loss of their one supermarket. That's a big deal for a lot of people.

  3. Sorry to read about the loss of their supermarket, but, good to know that the people are coming together to help others in the community.

    1. Always a positive thing when communities come together to help

  4. That's terrible news! Good the community is rallying round though. x


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