Donald Hyslop, chair of the Borough Market trustees, reflects on a difficult month for everyone associated with Borough Market and looks to a future of renewed togetherness and positivity
On Monday 3rd July, it will be exactly a month since the terrorist attack that unleashed such horrors upon Borough Market and the surrounding streets. This has, for everyone associated with the Market, been a strange and difficult few weeks. We are not alone: with the Grenfell Tower fire and the Finsbury Park attack both taking place in the wake of the incident here, there are a lot of people in London who have experienced that same sense of pain, loss and outrage, and our thoughts are with every single one of them.
The past month has been a period of great worry and uncertainty, but one in which the local community has pulled together like never before: traders, customers, staff, suppliers, local businesses, Southwark Cathedral, the Mayor, the government, the royal family, and—of course—the police and medics who worked with such skill and commitment in the aftermath of the attack.
The togetherness could be seen in the crowds that gathered for the reopening, and in the extraordinary response to our appeal to raise £50,000 to help those small, independent traders whose viability was put at risk by the loss of trading days and the spoiling of stock. Hundreds of donors contributed to the fund, from large local businesses donating thousands to students throwing in a fiver. Financial Times staff carried out a sponsored walk to raise money for the trader fund, then spent the afternoon in the Market buying lunch. The generosity of all these people—made all the more touching by the lovely messages of support that accompanied the donations—meant that we ended up raising more than double our target, and these funds have already started to be dispersed to those in need.
Hugs and handshakes
Support has come in many other forms too: in emails and letters, tweets and posts, hugs and handshakes. Local businesses have rallied round, giving their staff vouchers to come and spend with traders. Traders and customers alike have worn badges and t-shirts emblazoned with the ‘#LoveBorough’ logo.
Even more important than our request for financial help was our entreaty that customers return to the Market at the first opportunity, partly to help the traders but also to bring back the sense of energy and optimism that makes this such vital and dynamic institution. This they have done in their droves. As soon as we reopened, people started flooding back, including regular customers and many who were inspired to visit for the very first time.
Now, although emotions remain raw and consideration for those worst affected remains paramount, we are attempting to push on, to get the Market buzzing again. On 6th July, the Young Marketeers will be back, selling produce grown in their school gardens with the support of School Food Matters and Borough Market. The excitement of these primary school children at selling fruit and vegetables that they’ve nurtured themselves is always infectious, and will be a great fillip for the place.
An eager crowd
On 9th July, London’s French community, plus a sizeable contingent of greedy Francophiles drawn by the amazing food, will gather here to celebrate Bastille day. Two days later, Three Crown Square will host the latest in this year’s season of Borough Talks, with an eager crowd gathering to hear experts from the worlds of wine, beer, spirits and cocktails offering advice on how to become part of the ongoing drinks revolution.
On all the trading days in between, our stalls, shops and restaurants will continue supplying high quality food and drink, produced with love and skill and sold with a smile. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, I wrote of the need to remind ourselves that what we do here matters. I wrote about how a food market is a place of sustenance and wellbeing, pleasure and sharing, companionship and family. All of those things are very much in evidence again. Come down and see for yourselves.