Supporting our high street heroes

MEETING Alan Mak, second from left, with members of the Havant Men's Shed
MEETING Alan Mak, second from left, with members of the Havant Men's Shed
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Havant MP Alan Mak talks about some of the businesses he visited on Small Business Saturday

Last Saturday was Small Business Saturday and I spent the day visiting 20 high street businesses in Havant, Hayling and Emsworth to show my support.

My own family ran a small high street shop for more than 20 years, above which we lived and where I worked while growing up.

I know how much hard work – day and night – goes into making each small business a success. Their efforts create local jobs and keep our high streets vibrant.

I was especially fascinated by the family-owned businesses, like RA Tier in High Street, Emsworth, a family-run greengrocer. Similarly, Emsworth’s Blue Bell Inn has been run by the Babb family since 1994.

Today’s landlord is 30-year-old Giles. In Havant, I often pop into Lavender Tea Rooms in North Street, run by husband-and-wife Hanna and Ben Heath.

On Hayling, Tibble’s Florist in Mengham was founded in the 1930s. Until 2000, it was run by Peter Tibble who handed over to daughter Deborah. Her daughter, Katie, joined them in 2006. They’re all high street heroes.

I’ll be launching the first Havant Small Business Awards before Christmas, so look out for more information in The News about how you can nominate your local favourites.

Havant Men’s Shed are this week’s community heroes.

Based in Fraser Road, Bedhampton, opposite Havant Rugby Club, they run a community workshop and meeting place where men of all ages gather to work on projects, typically using carpentry and metalwork skills. The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia, and has spread quickly to the UK.

I was delighted to join them for tea and cakes to celebrate their second Christmas, and I enjoyed hearing about their latest projects.

This included constructing a new notice board for Juniper Square Residents’ Association at Havant.

Staff and customers at Havant Tesco have been collecting food for the Trussell Trust, and I donned my Christmas jumper to join them at the store to thank them for their work.

My next drop-in surgeries are this Saturday at Emsworth Community Centre from 10am to 11.30am and at the Purbrook Centre from 1pm to 2.30pm. Prior registration is not needed.

Thanks to all residents for their support and please enjoy the rest of the week.