I have spent the day reporting grim sales figures. They are a dreadful curse. Yet the High Street I reported from is a true blessing. The traders and locals are determined to fight the seemingly endless tale of decline. Let me tell you how.
Chris White has been a butcher all his working life. He does it well - while I was there the expert advice he was able to give customers was like nothing I have ever seen in a supermarket. I also saw the way he prepared meat, again the specialist skill was like nothing I have seen down at the usual chain stores. My dad was a butcher, so I recognise when it's been done well. Chris White does it very well. This is the way High Streets can and will survive all the grim economic predictions.
Just down the street Andy Parr runs a party shop, though there is little to cheer when it comes to takings. He says the local offices have slashed party budgets, often by half. He is full of determination and ideas. He wants a "brand" and logo for this High Street. He is holding meetings and getting shopkeepers to work together. He wants good service and unique products to be the salvation for shopping outlets battered by the big boys.
Across the road is a former Peacocks clothing store - they hit financial problems and moved out. The YMCA moved in, full of enthusiasm. They are bringing second hand bargains to the community - and some retail jobs in their big new charity shop. They are working with the community. A local celebrity (Thomas Plant from "Bargain Hunt" ) is helping them with a fundraising auction in January. Meanwhile people keep popping in with goods to donate (if you have any please email Sandra.Greene@England.YMCA.org.uk).
We hear such lot about the past for Britains High Streets - in Horley they know it's all about the future. At the end of a day reporting bad news - I left with new hope.