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Mary Queen of Shops drops in
Thursday, 05 July 2012
IT was all cameras and action in Liskeard on Wednesday when hero of the high street Mary Portas made a surprise visit with a film crew.
She ended her long day of talking to traders and shoppers in the town centre, by joining in carnival week’s annual Floral Dance, partnered by cllr Roger Holmes.
She said afterwards: ‘I have never done a Cornish floral dance before and it struck me that this is what the heart of the town is all about. It’s the community pulling together.’
Mary is embarking on a new series produced by Optomen for Channel 4 based on shops she wants to help get back on to their feet in declining town centres. This is separate from the Government-backed Portas Bid which has won Liskeard £100,000 and expert advice on rejuvenating its main streets.
On a day when the sun made a rare appearance, Mary was filmed as she strolled around Liskeard popping in and out of shops, talking to the owners. She found time to sit on a bench in Fore Street and have a good chat with Lorna Grimshaw, manager of the Country Market held in the Public Hall every Friday, and she also visited the cattle market to have a look around and talk to traders there.
She found time for coffee and chocolate cake breaks in two cafes. She also did some shopping herself, concentrating on Cornish products.
One of the film crew explained there would be months of filming involved, and they would be around the town for most of the summer, with Mary making some more visits. The series is not due to be screened until next year.
The Cornish Times was invited to join Mary for a chat during a break in filming at the Fat Frog Cafe.
Asked about her first impressions of Liskeard, she said: ‘This is clearly a beautiful town but it has been neglected and it wants a vision. A creative vibrancy directed at the high street with the community working together is now needed.
‘Liskeard needs to be a multi-functional mix of learning and creativity as well as shopping. It requires a long-term investment, as a quick cash gain will do nothing to secure its future. The market is a big space that is crying out to be used all the time – I am thinking Cornish produce stalls as a start – and car parking is obviously an issue that needs to be looked at.’
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Sir Ray Tindle
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