Olives Yard puts on a show for late shoppers

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A little starlight is returning to beleaguered traders in Olives Yard, Uckfield, this season.

Shopkeepers plan to win over Uckfield’s customers this Christmas after the town’s devastating fire which almost destroyed their businesses.

With the support of commercial agent Chris Lawson, the firms plan promotions and events aimed at putting their shops back on the map after access was blocked in the aftermath. At next Friday’s late night shopping event they are dressing up, organising a hog roast, mulled wine, mince pies and live music.

Kim Fishlock from Dru’s Bar and Brasserie at the Hop Barn said: “We’re going to be as festive as we can. We’ve been struggling. When shoppers can’t get into the yard for any reason they can forget we are here.”

On Sunday, September 2 a fire started behind charity shop Sense in Uckfield High Street. Olive’s Yard was hard hit when flames tore through listed buildings and access was barred as offices and flats were made safe.

Kim is also organising live cabaret and dancing featuring singer Julie Stardust, Alvin Stardust’s wife. She went on: “She performed for me in my other restaurant for the last seven years. She’s brilliant.”

Chris Lawson has arranged advertising for Olive’s Yard. He said: “We are between a rock and a hard place. Listed building people at Wealden are jumping up and down like demons.

“We wanted a crane to put a roof in to protect the damaged building. There wasn’t enough space in the yard so we would have needed a bigger one in the road but that would have involved a closure order. Finally Wealden agreed we could put in a timber roof to weatherproof the site. Debris has had to be cleared and it’s been raining – hard.”

Meanwhile Kim and her colleague Justine Dunsmore from Paws and Claws and Lisa Hepburn from The Flower Shop are battling to make sure their Christmas is merry and their New Year happier than the old.