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Town recreated on net

PUBLISHED: 15:44 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:14 03 July 2010

How Great Yarmouth appears in the virtual world of Second Life

How Great Yarmouth appears in the virtual world of Second Life

For a town that has regularly regenerated itself Great Yarmouth's total relocation to a place where millions of people lose themselves in a fantasy world marks a milestone in its 1000 year history.

The website's creator Sid White

For a town that has regularly regenerated itself Great Yarmouth's total relocation to a place where millions of people lose themselves in a fantasy world marks a milestone in its 1000 year history.

Its new virtual reality version is open for business in the booming internet enterprise Second Life - allowing visitors to surf the streets and shop at their leisure, as they would in the real world.

Turning the town into a cyber community built on its own island is the brainchild of entrepreneur Sid White, from Newtown, who was quick to spot the potential for business after visiting the site for the first time in 2006.

And in time he hopes to transform the future of teleporting into Great Yarmouth with tourism, history and educational benefits.

“The opportunities are pretty limitless,” said Mr White whose company GYSL is taking off in the real world and attracting plenty of interest.

“I have taken probably tens of thousands of photographs but it feels like millions. It is great for businesses and more beneficial than a normal website where your company is more difficult to find in a search engine. People can teleport into the town and walk round with that real world shopping mentality.”

The 34-year-old was awarded a £2000 business start up grant from enterpiseGY and benefited from a range of free courses focusing on time management and communication skills among other things.

Building the island community in Second Life meant selling plot of land he bought for an earlier project - re-creating St Nicholas' Church.

That effort was a personal and charity challenge with virtual visitors leaving real money in a collection plate, all of which goes towards the church's upkeep. The church has now been transported to its new site and more of the town is springing up around it.

Mr White said although the idea was difficult to explain to the uninitiated, people were always very enthusiastic once they had seen it for themselves.

enterpriseGY programme manager, Richard Percy, said: “Sid's idea was one of the more unusual we've been approached with but, on examining the detail and helping him develop a robust business plan, it was clear he had a sound proposition. We've been happy to support him in the venture and it demonstrates that enterpriseGY has the vision to look beyond the traditional.

“Whether a business is in the high street or in a virtual world, the principles of success are the same. Sid had a good idea and the drive to make it happen. He simply needed help with his planning, some skills training and access to funding - all of which enterpriseGY was able to provide. Second Life already has replicas of New York and London - why not put Great Yarmouth on the map too?”

Heather Hibbitts, owner of Henry's, one of the first businesses to become involved, said she was excited to be involved in GYSL with direct links to her website and the possibility of avatars being able to try on current stock in the virtual world before buying in the real one.

enterpriseGY provides a “one stop shop” for business start-up's and business growth in Great Yarmouth. They offer everything from help in developing business plans to expert advice, skills training, networking opportunities, practical tools, business mentoring and access to finance. All services are free and one in four new business in the borough now start up with the help of enterpriseGY. Website is enterpriseGY.co.uk and phone number is 0800 458 0146.

For more information about getting involved with GYSL email Sid White at info@GYSL.co.uk

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