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‘Treated like a VIP’- When I opened Budgens of Holt

PUBLISHED: 16:16 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:43 24 June 2020

Veronica Pearson, when she opened Budgens of Holt, aged 10. Picture: Supplied by Veronica Pearson

Veronica Pearson, when she opened Budgens of Holt, aged 10. Picture: Supplied by Veronica Pearson

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Until the devastating fire that destroyed Budgens of Holt, the supermarket was at the centre of its community for 35 years.

The damage after the devastating fire at Budgens of Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe damage after the devastating fire at Budgens of Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

One of the many town residents who carries fond memories of the business is Veronica Pearson, who, as a 10-year-old, won a colouring competition, and so got to officially open Budgens in 1985.

Mrs Pearson said she was shocked when she heard about the fire.

She said: “At first we were just so worried that there was someone inside the store. There were plumes of black smoke coming over us where we are living. It’s just so sad.”

MORE: ‘Pop up’ post office could be part of town’s recovery from supermarket fire

Veronica Pearson today with her family, from left, son Joseph, 18, husband Michael and daughter Daisy, 14. Picture: Supplied by Veronica PearsonVeronica Pearson today with her family, from left, son Joseph, 18, husband Michael and daughter Daisy, 14. Picture: Supplied by Veronica Pearson

Mrs Pearson’s 18-year-old son, Joseph, worked at the supermarket, and she said he was keeping in touch with other employees, waiting to hear what would happen next.

She said: “I think all the staff are worried about the people who relied on Budgens - it’s the feeling of wanting to help.”

Mrs Pearson said she was a pupil at Holt Primary School when she entered the competition, which involved colouring in a picture of the Swiss Alps.

She said: “The competition was set up by one of the Swiss cheese companies. I was very excited when I got to cut the ribbon.

A report on the opening of Budgens of Holt, 35 years ago. Picture: Supplied by Veronica PearsonA report on the opening of Budgens of Holt, 35 years ago. Picture: Supplied by Veronica Pearson

“I also got to stand behind the delicatessen with a hat on and cut a piece of cheese, and my friend and I were first in the staff room and I chose a pack of Digestives to have. It was very memorable, I’ve still got the letter telling me I was the winner.

“They treated me like a VIP.”

Mrs Pearson said the loss of the supermarket had left a big hole in the life of the town.

She said: “We would nip there most days to pick up something like milk.

A report on the opening of Budgens of Holt, 35 years ago. Picture: Supplied by Veronica PearsonA report on the opening of Budgens of Holt, 35 years ago. Picture: Supplied by Veronica Pearson

“Now we don’t know where to go - everyone’s saying the same.

“I’m sure a lot of people went there as well for the community aspect of it.”

The fire broke out at around 9pm on Saturday, June 20 at the Kerridge Way store, which also had the town’s only post office.

More than 100 firefighters were involved in fighting the blaze, and prevented it from spreading to other buildings. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


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