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New plans for village resort

PUBLISHED: 16:01 05 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:36 03 July 2010

Liz Coates

A TV brand guru is planning to do for Hemsby what Heinz did for baked beans - make it world famous!

Simon Middleton, is brimming with ideas to help the resort stand for all things positive when it comes to British seaside holidays - and aims to make Hemsby as synonymous with its herring festival as Walberswick is with crabbing, and Notting Hill with carnival.

Liz Coates

A TV brand guru is planning to do for Hemsby what Heinz did for baked beans - make it world famous!

Simon Middleton, is brimming with ideas to help the resort stand for all things positive when it comes to British seaside holidays - and aims to make Hemsby as synonymous with its herring festival as Walberswick is with crabbing, and Notting Hill with carnival.

Meanwhile the Norwich-based brand strategy expert is urging the village to stay true to its traditional roots and its old-fashioned values of fun, friendliness popular with its core audience of young families.

This week the holiday hub was putting on a cheery face for Easter visitors with colourful buckets and spades, balls and lilos spilling from the parade of shops as traders went about their business in the traditional way.

Although things have changed little in the seaside resort over the years its reputation could do with a polish, according to Mr Middleton, who is currently working with the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust and has every faith in his protégé.

“The challenge for Hemsby is that what people carry around in their heads about the resort might vary from one person to another. It's all about perception. I love the place, it's compact and friendly,” he said.

“The traders had got themselves a bit down because times are getting tough and Pontin's had pulled out which was a bit of a blow because it took away about a third of their accommodation.

“One of the traders James Gray hit on this word brand and found me.

“I thought they were a great bunch of people and there is a fantastic sense of community. The thing they have realised is that it is no good just one of them succeeding because they all depend on a critical mass of people coming down Beach Road.

“They are a pretty canny bunch of people and I think they know they have to make some changes.”

Mr Middleton has waived his fee and is aiming to showcase Hemsby in the second episode of a TV series he is making for Sky called The Brand Effect when it will feature alongside Sweden, a country whose strong brand is linked to the success of Ikea and H &M.

He added: “For Hemsby it's not about big budget advertising, but about creating an authentic story about the place which appeals to people. This is a fantastically friendly and enjoyable little resort with a truly magnificent sandy beach.

“We also want to let big holiday companies know that Hemsby is a terrific location. Pontins pulled out of the village last year which I think was a mistake. So there's a vacancy in the village for a holiday accommodation provider with real imagination and commitment.”

Norfolk travel photographer Ian Aitken is shooting a series of portraits of the Hemsby traders and other aspects of Hemsby over the next few weeks which will be exhibited in the village, in Norwich and possibly beyond.


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