Fruit and veg stallholders call time after 31 years

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Fruit and veg stallholders Paul and Ann Murray, virtual ever-presents at Berwick’s twice weekly market since 1983, have called it a day.

The couple made their last appearance at the Marygate market on Saturday - although it was not one that will be remembered fondly.

“I think it will go down as one of the most stressful days we’ve had in Berwick,” revealed Ann.

“First of all it was chucking it down with rain, then we had the protest march where we had a bit of a run in with a policeman and, of course, we were saying goodbye to a lot of good friends.

“We’d really like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers who’ve supported us over the years. We’re really going to miss them.”

The feeling is clearly mutual - one customer even presented Ann with a bouquet of flowers and chocolates!

The pair, who live in Belford, have decided to quit due to ‘personal circumstances’.

The market was still thriving when Paul and Ann arrived on the scene and they have witnessed its general decline over the years.

“Every time a supermarket opened, our trade got less and less,” said Paul, who also feels the lack of nearby parking has been a contrubuting factor in its struggle.

“I think the final straw might have been when Home Bargains started selling potatoes,” added Ann.

However, their dedication has never been in doubt.

There have been times, especially in the winter, when they have had the only stall on the street.

Even when snow and ice made driving conditions hazardous they managed make their way up the A1 to Berwick - sometimes via Newcastle to collect their fruit and veg.

“The regulars expect you to be here so you do your best,” said Paul when he was featured by the Advertiser in a 2010 article after a particularly bad spell of weather.

“We come to Berwick 52 weeks of the year and I have seen us here in January and February and be the only stall here.”

In the past, they called for an incentive scheme so that traders would get reduced rates at quieter times of the year.

They also had stalls at Alnwick on Saturdays, which will continue to be run by Paul’s brother-in-law, William Smith, and at East Fortune on Sundays.

“We’re both looking for new jobs now,” said Ann.

“We’re not sure what we’re going to do but it will feel strange not setting up stall in Berwick after all these years.”

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