BUSINESSES in Fordingbridge have joined together to launch a new campaign calling on the community to help “keep the heart” of the town beating.

A launch event for Keep the Heart Beating was held on Saturday. The campaign will be an ongoing initiative encouraging people to continue to support local business and help them recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

To kick-off the launch David Shering drove a carriage, pulled by his horse Belle and Bresil, through the town displaying the banner alongside a tuk tuk driven by Shaun Manston of Take a Tuk Tuk.

Dave Tree, of All the Cool Stuff, who is one of the business owners involved in the campaign, said: “With everything that has been going on a lot of people have faced challenges across the board but now we are having to pick up everything again. Every community’s town centre is really the beating heart.”

He called on communities to support their local businesses and their support was “needed more than ever”.

Dave said the campaign was a “positive way” to get people to realise what they have available to them and get them to think what is on their doorstep before shopping online or at bigger stores.

The campaign has been a collaborative effort between businesses in the town. The art work for the campaign has been designed by Clo Design in Fordingbridge.

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A number of businesses in the town, as well as local councillors, came to celebrate the launch and show their support. The town has seen non-essential businesses reopen and pubs, and other hospitality businesses as well as barbers and hairdressers will be reopening again this month.

Clare Johnston, of The Gourmet Grocer, who has also been involved in the campaign, said it has been able to stay open throughout the lockdown but wanted to find a way to show support for the other businesses that have had to close during this time.

Salisbury Journal: Clare Johnston of the Gourmet GrocerClare Johnston of the Gourmet Grocer

However, she says as the lockdown has eased there has been a “decline” in footfall, adding:“The message is don’t forget us after this.” She said that “Fordingbridge needs you”. “The key message is everyone in Fordingbridge wants to be here and wants to stay. We can only keep our place on high street if we are used.”

Marco Stefanini, of La Lambretta, who has also been involved in the campaign said: “Local people have supported me very well. It’s kept the business alive.”

He said the support meant a lot to businesses in the town and called for community’ support for other businesses at this difficult time, adding: “We need our community.”

Gerry MacKenzie, of Price Butchers, said the campaign was “terrific”, adding: “This is a wonderful, vibrant community.”

He said the businesses was “really grateful” for the support. “We are very much part of the community. It is wonderful [the support] it means are business continues and the businesses of very small local producers and micro producers also continue.

“We look forward to the continued support of the local community and serving the local community.”

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Kirsty Evans, of Created By You, said the town “always had the community spirit anyway” but during lockdown they have “come out and supported businesses to be able to stay open”.

She said it would be nice to see the support for local businesses continue, adding: “It has been amazing. We are hoping it carries on.”

There has been donations from Fordingbridge Events Group, Fordingbridge Town Council and businesses towards the costs of promotional signs and banners.

Other businesses supporting the campaign include The Cottage Loaf, Select Pets, All Sorts Emporium, Care4You, Arch Clinic, Fordingbridge Book Shop, Paulettes Podiatry, Bridges Café, Caxtons, The George Pub and Adrian Dowling.

Brian Perkins, of Perkins Motor Accessories, a long-running business in the town, said: “If people don’t support them they won’t won’t be here.”

Salisbury Journal: Brian Perkins with David Clarke Brian Perkins with David Clarke

The mayor of Fordingbridge, Councillor Edward Hale said“I want to say how important it is to let everyone know that Fordingbridge is open for business and also what wide range of shops we have in this town. And how important it is now for residents and visitors to support our local businesses.”