BUSINESSES in Ripley have come together to help save the village High Street.

The Ripley Business Association is the first such organisation in the village and evolved between business owners during lockdown.

Lisanne Mealing, the association chairwoman, said there have been previous smaller initiatives, especially when the bypass opened in the mid-1970s, but these had faded away.

“With lockdown, business owners had time to look at this properly and there was real concern that we could lose the heart of the village,” Lisanne said.

Even before coronavirus, Ripley had lost its doctors’ surgery, pharmacy, butcher and post office.

“We approached the parish council and they had similar concerns. Some of the vital things were no longer there and if this continued there would be no High Street.”

The parish council gave the group some funding and now a website has been set up, with a launch of the association at a recent farmers’ market, which is held on the second Saturday each month.

“We used social media and a leaflet drop and the response has been really positive. We have 24 businesses that have signed up,” Lisanne said.

“The objective is to bring all the businesses and organisations together, to promote the village and champion everything that makes it such a great village to live in, visit and/or have a business in.”

The High Sheriff of Surrey, Shahid Azeem, spent several hours in the village, meeting residents, visitors and business owners and gaining an understanding of the motivation for the formation of the association.

The association hopes to spread the success of the monthly market to the rest of the month in the High Street.

For more on this story, see the 20 August edition of the News & Mail