Market Rasen’s Queen of the High Street (and it’s not Mary Portas)

ed the buskerIf you were a very successful copywriter who also helped run a family tree surgery business and was project managing the development of an eco rural business hub…and had children…you would probably think that was enough. But recently I’ve had the pleasure to meet a lady who has the drive and generosity to give back to her community, with such positivity, energy and sheer determination that I would defy anyone not to be persuaded to get on board!

Sarah Lamballe is the inspiration behind Market Rasen’s successful Portas Pilot bid and a founder member of the Market Rasen Business Improvement Group with a very simple initial intention to ‘tidy up the town’. I have a feeling, even if Market Rasen hadn’t been successful with their bid, Sarah would still have pulled it off somehow. She seized an opportunity to make a difference, consulting with local businesses to make sure everything was rooted in the community so they took ownership from the outset, but also cleverly wording her application so it met all the criteria of the brief and of course, using social media to drive the project forward. That’s the way to do it.

yarnbomb 2 mrThere are now new, thriving independent shops on the high street, the market has been reinstated and the number of stalls doubled, there is an on going programme of business training and Market Rasen has held its first Arts & Crafts Festival ‘Plank 2013’, a 2 week celebration of local artists work being exhibited on the high street, often in empty spaces, with accompanying workshops and street entertainment. A drummer busked in the market place, a public realm installation (yarnbomb) brought colour and texture to the high street and as well as knitted contributions from local groups, some had also been posted from further afield, Devon and Surrey to name two (OK, so I was responsible for the yarnbomb, I had to get a little bit of self promotion into this somewhere).

As well as regenerating and transforming her high street, showcasing and raising the profile of local artists work and providing the opportunity for an apprentice to gain experience, Sarah is also lovely, warm, open and sincere…hardly fair is it?

Market Rasen’s Queen of the High Street was suggested by artist Carol Parker



  1. What a lovely surprise to come back to after a week away! Thank you so much Carol for your flattering words and numerous compliments. And thanks to Dan and so many others on Twitter for sharing it. Whilst I have been heavily involved with #plank2013, I can’t possibly take the credit for the success of Market Rasen’s Portas Pilot to date. Like everything we do in Market Rasen it has been a huge team effort – we even a few men on our board! But seeing as this blog is about drawing attention to strong women, I must mention two other incredible Queens of the High Street at the heart of Market Rasen’s journey – namely Sara Scott, our inspirational and dynamic Chair and Marketing Director, whose branding and marketing genius is matched only by her ability to wield a paintbrush – and Jackie Smith, our Markets Director, whose organisational and operational talents have won us Britain’s Best Small Speciality Market of the Year award. Jackie can also put up and take down a market stall in the time it takes our nay saying onlookers to sup the froth off their pint in the Aston Arms beer garden. Ladies, I salute you!

    In all seriousness though, there is a point to be made here about how strong women work well together. In the times we have flagged and nearly failed we have taken great strength from our friendship and support of one another, trying to help each other balance all our commitments with our day jobs and family life. We have talked, we have listened, we have shared the work load and persevered, because we care about one another and have not wanted to let each other, or our community down.

    A year in from the formation of our group, we have come to a realisation that ultimately we are not superwomen and that amount of unpaid personal effort is unsustainable. Therein lies the challenge for all the Queens of the High Street, including Mary herself – although i must add that her warmth, passion and energy gave us all a huge lift and we’re determined to keep on trying to make a difference. What other choice is there?

  2. danthompson33

    Thanks Sarah – and feel free to write us a blog post about either Sara, or Jackie, or both!

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