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Words: Glynis Fox
Photography: Mick Fox & Eyerise Photography, Painting by David Work
Featured in the August 2011 issue

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Market towns have to work harder than many other destinations when it comes to maintaining vital shops and services – but it can be surprising to learn what is happening ‘behind the scenes.’

Market Rasen, which sits on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, is an important centre for locals and people from the surrounding villages but it continues to battle against bigger destinations and the growth of online retailing.

Now determined individuals and aspiring entrepreneurs are pulling out the stops to ensure that the community will benefit from a large range of initiatives and new ventures.

At the same time independent shopkeepers and publicans are investing in their premises and stock, with the aim of offering shoppers and people who enjoy eating out more variety.

Market Rasen Hub is at the heart of the action, helping to drive forward the Coalition Government’s agenda which is encouraging communities to find solutions to their own needs and issues.

West Lindsey District Council’s planning and development services manager (and area manager for Market Rasen) Mark Sturgess is keen to work with the town towards developing a Community Partnership Plan and the Hub hopes to be included in that.

A ‘summit’ meeting is taking place on 24th September, between 10am and 4pm, in the town’s Festival Hall, which will explore the town’s future. It will be attended by representatives from West Lindsey and Market Rasen Town Councils, local business people and anyone else who is interested.

Rasen Hub chair Carol Skye said: “Between 2001 and 2006, the town benefited from a major £3 million investment, which allowed for a revamp of the high street and improvements on the environmental, tourism, health and education fronts.

“We have one of the very few traditional Georgian High Streets in this area; there are a lot of unique shops and we are a place where you can find something different, but I think we need to look at ways of regenerating the town again.

“It would be really good if we could get a big community centre or a swimming pool here – either would make a real difference,” said Mrs Skye.

Meanwhile, the Rasen Hub – which has grown out of what was originally called the Market Rasen Development Trust – is busy working on a string of projects, designed to provide encouragement and activities for all sections of the community.

“We have formed a Community Partnership Agreement with Rasen Mail, which is now based in our Union Street building and the newspaper is supporting us by promoting and developing a business forum,” said Mrs Skye.

As we went to press, the Hub had also arranged to meet with CGP, a training company in the town’s High Street, with a view to forming another partnership, a part of its push to improve Market Rasen’s facilities through a ‘Let’s Work Together’ approach.

Mrs Skye said the Hub, which helped to organise the Market Rasen Country Festival and Gardens Fair in May, at the town’s Racecourse, is also working on ideas to make it even bigger and better next time around.

“The event featured everything from vintage cars to a fun fair and Zorbing. We attracted 1,500 people, but we want to expand it and make it much bigger, so that it will hopefully bring more people into the area,” said Mrs Skye.

Colleague and Hub co-ordinator Stella Tuplin said that, as part of the push to encourage more community activities, the Hub has successfully used a Lincolnshire County Council PIP (People, Ideas, Places) grant of £500, to develop the Market Rasen Craft Club.

Now twenty-one different craft groups use the Rasen Hub as a place where they can meet and learn a variety of crafts. Tutors go in on a regular basis to share their expertise and the result is cost-effective classes, which are generating funds which are ploughed back into the Hub for further benefit locally.

Apart from running regular weekly sessions, craft tutors can also run their own courses at the Hub, which helps to generate further community funds.

Mrs Tuplin said that people also pop into the Rasen Hub when they need to be signposted to expert debt counselling, mediation and other family services.

“We are also keen to develop a social club for older people here and to make this a base where we can host activities for young people,” she added.

The Rasen Hub would also love to hear from anyone who is keen to make a difference by working with the centre as one of its unpaid directors.

Town Councillor Graham Bower said that, while local people will be asked how they want their town to evolve, steps are already being taken to make the town more welcoming.

“Firstly, we are going to put up a new board in the Market Square, which will feature a map, business advertising and information about walks in the area, because the town has official Walkers are Welcome status. The board should be in place by the end of August,” he said.

“We also want to clean up the Market Square and we would like to refurbish the Festival Hall, but we need to apply for grant aid to do that. We have already got some quotes in for the work which needs doing.

“Shopping-wise, I think Market Rasen is holding its own. Our market days are Tuesdays (when there is also an auction), Fridays and Saturdays, and we are keen to get more stallholders.”

Products currently sold include vegetables, flowers, pet foods and cards and there is also a burger van and a Grimsby fish van.

“We have launched an initiative to attract more stallholders by giving them the opportunity to pay for a stall for four weeks, then enjoy trading for another four weeks for free,” added Councillor Bower.

Market Rasen boasts a real mix of long-standing family-run businesses and newer enterprises, set up during tough times, who are managing to make their mark in the town.

There is a selection of cafés and pubs – including those which have benefitted from a recent injection of cash – and Market Rasen has a good mix of professional service firms too, such as estate agent Walter’s and the accountancy firm Nicholsons.

Among the town’s dining gems is The Albion Tea Room in Queen Street, which has been run by Mrs Anne Jopson and her partner Ronnie for the past six years and which serves everything from delicious sandwiches and rolls to mouthwatering desserts.

Mrs Jopson and her team treat all customers in the same friendly manner, encouraging them to return time and again.

“We have many regular customers, some of whom visit from Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Sleaford; the regulars are those who keep a business going even through these difficult times,” said Mrs Jopson.

The Tea Room is open from Tuesday to Sunday and Mrs Jopson said its Sunday Lunches are a great success. Friday night opening has been abandoned for the time being, however, due to a lack of diners.

“We shall look at this venture again later on, because you have to keep trying new ideas particularly through difficult times. Our customers are very special to us and we appreciate their loyalty at all times.”

SINGING FOR THE BRAIN
Market Rasen is poised to be the first place in Lincolnshire to get a new group designed to help people with dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society is looking for lead volunteers and assistants to set up its first ‘Singing for the Brain’ group pilot in Lincolnshire, which it hopes to get off the ground in September.
Society East Midlands – Lincolnshire & Northamptonshire Volunteering Officer Bex Mezzo said: “This will be the first such group in Lincolnshire, but hopefully there will be many others.

Singing for the Brain is a programme developed by music specialists to help people with memory problems and it has been specifically created for people with dementia, and their carers, to help to sustain mental and psychological wellbeing.

“This is through stimulating and challenging singing and gentle physical activity – and much more than just a sing-along,” said Ms Mezzo.

The Society said that Singing for the Brain provides an opportunity to build friendships, gain support and share experiences with people who understand the issues surrounding living with dementia and that it is also great fun and uplifting for everyone who takes part.

“We know that it promotes communication through singing, which can help with articulation, concentration, focus and motivation. We have specially trained facilitators who deliver a varied programme of vocal, rhythmic and gentle physical exercise and dance along with songs from different eras and styles to match everyone’s tastes,” added Ms Mezzo.

For more details contact Bex Mezzo on (01636) 642892.

MAKE YOUR GOING GREEN
A peaceful wildflower meadow and woodland, beside a spring fed stream offers a final resting place.

Most of us prefer not to think about what will happen when we die. It is, however, the one thing that is unavoidable. When it does happen funeral arrangements are often made in a spontaneous way; amid the grief and sorrow our bodies are laid to rest, in an unfamiliar cemetery or dispatched following a short ceremony at a crematorium.

Green burial is not a new concept – until the industrial revolution and the growth of towns and cities our remains were buried in familiar village churchyards with trees and rich carpets of wildflowers. The place of burial was in the community where you were born and lived all your life, close to your family and your friends.

A green burial in a place of tranquillity and beauty – which changes with the seasons and grows and flourishes to form a sustainable landscape, benefitting wildlife and future generations – is available near the village of Owmby, ten miles north of Lincoln in the centre of the county.

This haven of peace is being planted with burial glades of native trees within a rich wildflower meadow; the site is already an attractive landscape and is becoming a rich habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Each grave is a single depth plot and adjacent plots may be reserved for other family members. Most funerals are arranged by the families’ chosen funeral director and carried out under their guidance. The burial meadow is non-denominational, but an individual grave may be blessed at the time of the burial.

All burials take place in a biodegradable coffin casket or shroud and graves are hand dug to ensure that the burial has the least impact on the ecology of the site as possible.

Following a burial each grave is sown with wildflower seed and a native memorial tree may be planted adjacent to the grave. All graves are numbered and recorded to ensure they can be traced in the future.

Some people do not feel that burial is for them and may wish to be cremated; ashes may also be buried and a memorial tree planted.

The surrounding land has been farmed by the same family for 120 years. The family are keen conservationists and also run an eight acre garden, wildflower meadow and woodland at The Garden House in nearby Saxby which is open to visitors every weekend from April until September and has several charity days each year.

For further details please contact: www.brightwatergreenburial.co.uk 01673 878820.

QUICK FACTS
Market Rasen has a warm appearance, thanks to the brickwork of its predominantly Georgian and Victorian architecture, which is largely centred around the Market Place.

The word ‘Rasen’ is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning plank. In this case, it perhaps refers to a wooden bridge or boardwalk over the River Rase.

The settlement was originally known as East Rasen, Rasen Parva or Little Rasen but, with the arrival of the railway in 1848, this small town quickly outgrew its neighbours, West and Middle Rasen.

The town’s population is now well over 3,000 and it is twinned with Mamers in the Sarthe region of Pays del al Loire in France.

The Market Place is dominated by the Anglican parish church of St Thomas, which can seat more than 500 people. The church nave was rebuilt in 1862 and the top of the church tower was restored in 1884.

Many more people discovered where Market Rasen is when the town made the headlines, after being rocked by an earthquake – registering 5.2 on the Richter Scale, in February 2008.

A FRIEND IN SIGHT
A Big Lottery Fund grant of £240,561 means that visually-impaired people in Market Rasen will benefit from a new Befriending Service called ‘A Friend in Sight.’

Lincoln & Lindsey Blind Society has ninety visually-impaired members living in the town and surrounding villages and its new free service aims to help them to keep as much of their independence as possible.

Volunteer Co-ordinator Teresa Roberts said:  “Volunteers visit clients in their own homes, or via the Society’s telephone befriending service, to provide companionship, help with practical tasks and hobbies or other interests.”

Mrs Roberts said many clients will be elderly and they would enjoy having someone visiting them each week, for companionship and conversation over a cup of tea or help in reading their mail.

“Some people will want to go out for a walk and to have someone accompany them to the shops or a social activity. The ultimate vision of the Society is to support clients to be independent, improve their confidence and self-esteem and to help combat isolation,” she said.

“Our project will help visually-impaired people to be involved in social activities, help them to access recreational opportunities and community facilities and lead to greater community interaction and inclusion.“

Mrs Roberts added that the Lincoln & Lindsey Blind Society exist to enhance the quality of life of blind, partially-sighted and visually-impaired people, of all ages.

She is keen to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer to help the Society to start delivering its Befriending Service. Mrs Roberts can be contacted on: (01507) 605604.

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