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Ram-raided shop officially reopens 16 months later

PUBLISHED: 11:48 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:48 14 August 2019

Father and son George, left, and Douglas Johnson welcome the official reopening. Pictures: David Bale

Father and son George, left, and Douglas Johnson welcome the official reopening. Pictures: David Bale

Archant

It's been a "rocky road" but 16 months after a shop was wrecked in a ram-raid it's been officially reopened.

Crowds gathered for the official reopening of Johnson's of Reepham. Pictures: David BaleCrowds gathered for the official reopening of Johnson's of Reepham. Pictures: David Bale

A JCB ploughed into the front of Johnson's of Reepham, on Market Place, on April 25 last year, and a cash machine was removed before the vehicle was set alight.

Due to planning regulations, it took nearly a year to start repair work on the front of the business, which remained open.

And the official reopening of the shop and post office was held on Wednesday, August 14.

It has been run for the last 50 years by members of the Johnson family.

Kay Rose at the official reopening. Pictures: David BaleKay Rose at the official reopening. Pictures: David Bale

George, 82, and Sheila Johnson, 85, were in charge for about 35 years before their son Douglas and his wife Carole took over 15 years ago.

Douglas Johnson said: "It's the end of a rough ride, a rocky road. There were times when I thought we would not complete the rebuilding.

"Because it's a listed building and 250 years old, there were constraints over what we could do, so getting over the line has been hard."

Back in April 2018, his first concern was for his parents, who lived above the shop.

June Betts at the official reopening. Pictures: David BaleJune Betts at the official reopening. Pictures: David Bale

He added: "It was pretty horrific when I arrived. The digger was alight and burning fuel was coming down the street.

"Altogether the work has cost about £100,000. We have made it easier access for wheelchair-users, and moved the counter into the window, which has given us more space inside. We could not have done it without the staff and customers."

The store's cash machine was not put back, and Mr Johnson added: "We could not have taken another hit again."

The opening was carried out by June Betts, 90, and Kay Rose, 100, from the town, and it was blessed by the vicar, the Rev Keith Rengert. Mark Northway, who will become Cromer's new town crier after the carnival, welcomed the reopening in suitably loud style.

Mr Johnson senior, a Scouser who's known as the Liverpool ambassador to Norfolk, said: "I'm very proud of my son, as it's been a long, hard slog."

No-one had been arrested in connection with the ram-raid.

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