Totally ready for 2022

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
January 2022

Local business initiatives and an emphasis on community involvement are helping to ensure that Brigg continues to bloom, as Melanie Burton finds.

With a mix of family-run independent traders, some of which have been part of the fabric of the town for decades, Brigg offers a unique customer experience and a varied range of products and services.

Jo Ransford, who runs Carries clothing shop in Grammar School Road with owner Queenie Carrie, said they had been fairly busy and had managed to hold their own during the difficult economic climate.

“We are a small boutique and on the whole managed to stay afloat,” she said. “We were able to sell our stock and restock quite quickly but you are never sure what is going to happen.

“Totally Locally Brigg has supported us, the locals have been supportive and our regular customers have supported us throughout.

“When we did our Black Friday sale we extended it through the week and included discounts and the shop was inundated all week.

“It has not been like other years, but there has been a steady influx and new people are coming into Brigg.”

Jo, who has worked with Queenie for seven years and does a lot of the buying, said they were focusing on getting through January and making plans for the summer.

“Depending on what happens, we are hoping to take our stock to different shows through the year. We did it a few years ago and in November went to a show at Lincolnshire Showground, which went very well and was a boost.”

Carries is a family run business that thrives on providing customers with clothes, shoes and accessories to suit all women regardless of size and age. Each item is handpicked and the team are passionate about delivering styles to suit real women.

Another business which is passionate about what it does and about making Brigg a visitor destination is The Rabbit Hole independent bookshop in the Market Place.

The friendly, community-focused indie bookshop is run by Nick and Mel Webb, who are also responsible for the creation of the town’s Indie Market, which now takes place once a month.

Now organised by the voluntary run group Totally Locally, it aims to get more people shopping locally by promoting the town’s small independent businesses by giving them the chance to showcase their items and products at the market.

“The Indie Market is doing really well,” Nick explained. “It started with six stalls but now there are 30-plus with a waiting list. There are lots of things for next year to get more businesses on board.

“Smaller towns like Brigg are faring better than the bigger towns especially with the Indie Markets. A lot of the stallholders go to other towns like Louth, Market Rasen and Newark. They are spreading the word.

“With Totally Locally there are no rules, no committees or anything like that. It is bright, cheerful and there is a positive feel around.

“It takes place once a month at the moment but they are hoping to have a second one.

“It is something to look forward to and they are all thinking about the future and have got summer in their heads.”

The Rabbit Hole has a large children’s area with play tables while the new books for adults can be found at the rear of the shop with a further selection of books, vinyl and CDs upstairs.

Mel and Nick used to be teachers and organise reading groups, activities for children as well as school events and outdoor events for youngsters.

Thanks to a European Social Fund (ESF) grant, they are now working in conjunction with Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln on a new project aimed at people over 16 in their search for employment or entry back into education.

Nick explained: “We have an ESF grant to run a scheme with the university to help those distanced from their employment market.

“There are different skills here that they can tap into and it is all about creativity and creating culture. We are trying to encourage them to think outside the box. They might have skills they didn’t know they had.”

The project gives them the opportunity to be able to access different areas of the bookshop’s work and is led by the group working together in everything, with initiatives including running supported events with authors and speakers both virtually and in the shop and other venues.

There will also be opportunities to explore their own areas of creativity through art, music, design, craft or other things.
“We try to give them a broad spectrum because some will have left school unfinished, if they were sitting their GCSEs in 2020 and didn’t stay on for A-Levels,” said Nick.

The project, which runs through until April, also signposts them to additional support and advice from different areas.
“It is just nice to be able to put something back into the community,” Nick said.

The business sector in the North Lincolnshire area including Brigg is being supported through a range of funding to help create jobs and opportunities for growth through budding entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The new £75,000 grant pot announced at the beginning of December is designed to help people launch new ventures or grow newly-created businesses.

This latest cash is seeing North Lincolnshire Council deliver on the levelling-up agenda, supporting a strong, diverse business sector by creating jobs and enabling opportunities for growth.

Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Councillor Rob Waltham, said: “If our economy is to continue powering ahead we must support our young businesses, which is exactly what this grant scheme does.

“Confidence in the local economy is demonstrated by the number of people starting new businesses, and the council and Government are playing a vital part in supporting these start-ups.”

The one-off payment of up to £1,000 is aimed at helping people starting a new venture or going self-employed, as well as businesses in their first 12 months of trading.

It can be used for things such as equipment, permits, marketing or stock acquisition.

This latest cash comes after a raft of local businesses, including 28 start-ups, shared a pot of £400,000 Government cash in November designed to help lead the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cash has been used to support almost 40 companies with their diversification and growth plans, creating jobs and securing many others. It is the latest Government cash adding to the £200m in support into the district since March 2020.

Councillor Waltham said: “North Lincolnshire’s economy is starting to power ahead as the economic effects of the pandemic fall. Unemployment figures have fallen and are now below the England average, which has not been the case for many years. Companies are recruiting at record levels, as we saw with the response to our recent jobs expo.

“People’s confidence in the local economy is demonstrated with more people starting a new business. Grants have also been made to larger companies to help them diversify.”

Retailers, businesses and the community in Brigg are already looking ahead to next summer and looking at what can be done to lift spirits following the challenges they faced during the pandemic.

Now they have the chance to enhance the appearance of the town with a grant from North Lincolnshire Council to help get their spring planting off to a flying start.

Grants are available from the local authority’s £25,000 In Bloom funding pot. The money can be used for planters, flowers or shrubs to enhance community spaces and improve the environment.

Cabinet member for the environment, Councillor David Rose, said: “We have had great success with this across a number of years now.

“Gardening is a great outdoor exercise and is proven to help mental health – I am really looking forward to the stunning displays when spring comes this year.”

Part of the North Lincolnshire In Bloom initiative – which was launched four years ago – the scheme also promotes volunteering and community pride, as well as making the area even more attractive.

It will also help communities taking part in contests such as the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) Best Kept Village and Town.

Councillor Carl Sherwood, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, rural, said: “We are continuing with our strong track record of investing in communities, enhancing our natural environments, and improving and developing many natural habitats to create wildlife havens teeming with life.

“The cash will help make our towns and villages more beautiful, help wildlife flourish and create more pleasant places for residents to be.

“We’ve invested thousands in things such as community buildings, play equipment, paths and cycle routes. This funding is additional to that and will enable people to get involved and make a difference to their communities.”

O’Brien’s Opticians have launched a brand new Eyewear Styling Service for existing and new patients at their practice in Brigg after recently training their team as professional eyewear stylists. This individually dedicated consultation service offers patients a unique and bespoke eyewear styling consultation to help them discover their perfect eyewear to suit both their optical and style needs. The consultations are curated by Jane Palmer, Gemma Chelton, June Lockham and Karen Boulton.

The team has been professionally trained in how to assess individual colour analysis, colour psychology, facial and features analysis, style personality and eyewear selection. This will enable all patients to feel assured they are being given an unparalleled consultation service to find them their perfect eyewear. This service adds to the dispensing of ophthalmic lenses by exceptional and superior manufacturers such as Carl Zeiss, Nikon, Seiko, Rodenstock, Essilor (Varilux, Transitions), Kodak, Hoya and many others.

Practice manager, Jane Palmer said: “From our experience, we have often found that patients find choosing eyewear a difficult and sometimes daunting and stressful experience. Due to this, we felt it was necessary to invest in a process to better help patients discover and select eyewear which they not only just feel happy in, but are delighted to be wearing!

“Our whole team has recently been professionally trained in becoming experts in eyewear styling and we are delighted to be able to offer this bespoke, brand new eyewear styling consultation service to existing and new customers. Clients of all ages, gender and style preference will now be able to find their perfect and most suitable eyewear in our practice.”

Low vision service for the visually impaired
Optometrist Dr Janjua recently completed the College of Optometrists’ acclaimed Professional Certificate in Glaucoma and also the Professional Certificate in Low Vision from Cardiff University. Together with the support of his staff he has launched a private Low Vision Service using the highest quality low vision aids from Germany.

Low vision is when your sight is impaired, making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks with ordinary spectacles. This can be caused by various eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The aim of the service is to provide individuals who suffer from reduced vision with a high quality service and products to improve their vision and independence.

O’Brien’s welcomes new patients. The practice is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Saturday 9am-4pm. Tel: 01652 653595 or 01652 649024 to make an appointment.

Specialists in outdoor and country clothing, Wallhead’s Countrywear is a highly regarded family business which combines classic sporting brands with five-star customer service. Established in 1897 by James Blackburn Wallhead, today this popular store in Wrawby Street, Brigg, is run by fourth-generation Richard Wallhead, who is committed to offering a warm welcome with personal attention for both local shoppers as well as many who come from far and wide, including New Zealand and the USA.

As well as catering for formal and casual wear, here you will find everything you need to enjoy the great outdoors, with top quality designs from brands including Barbour, Brook Taverner, Le Chameau, Aigle, Viyella, Peter England, Gurteen, Farah, Hawick Knitwear, as well as Failsworth hats and caps. If you’re looking for quality shooting clothing, Wallhead’s stocks popular German brand Schoffel, including tweed breeks and waistcoats, with caps to match, as well as excellent Gore-Tex and Venturi waterproof, machine washable shooting coats.

For more information telephone: 01652 652356.

It might seem a long way away, but in just under six months’ time towns and cities up and down the country will hopefully be celebrating the Queen’s major milestone – her Platinum Jubilee.

Preparations are already underway and community groups, town and parish councils and voluntary organisations across North Lincolnshire including Brigg are being given £250 to help kickstart their celebrations.

In June 2022, the nation will come together over a four-day bank holiday weekend to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign – the first time any monarch has reached the historic milestone.

The Government has changed the late May Bank Holiday in 2022 to take place on Thursday 2nd June with an additional bank holiday on Friday 3rd June for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

North Lincolnshire Council has made funding available now to enable a range of community-led activities and events to take place over the long weekend.

Councillor Rob Waltham said the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a remarkable achievement.

“It is only right that we help communities join in the celebrations – big or small – to mark the occasion.

“We have all seen the amazing community spirit in North Lincolnshire over the past 18 months, so it will be brilliant to all come together in celebration of the Queen and her reign.”

Photographs: Mick Fox

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