Sally hopes her success is '˜First' for Horncastle!

A business owner has hit back at claims that Horncastle is a '˜dying town' and insists its range of independent shops and restaurants mean it has a vibrant future.

That is the positive message from Sally Speed whose ladies’ fashionwear shop ‘First’ has just been named as East Lindsey’s best independent retailer.

Sally headed off strong competition to win that accolade and admits that, for once, she was ‘speechless’ at the recent presentation ceremony.

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However, she is hoping the award is a catalyst to show Horncastle is very much ‘alive and kicking’.

She said: “There seems to be a lot of negativity about Horncastle at the moment.

People go on about the litter, the general state of the town...the problems with parking.

“But there’s another side. It is a great place - a friendly market town. There are not many empty shops. It’s full of independent retailers who are all working hard.

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“I know people will always moan but, when you look around, Horncastle is not that bad a place .”

Sally was born and brought up in the area but left to move to London, where she worked as a buyer for high street giants like House of Fraser and Debenhams.

She then underwent a career change and trained horses.

But in the year 2000 she was tempted back to Lincolnshire for ‘family reasons’.

With strong links to leading clothing brand ‘Joules’, she opened her first shop in Horncastle in 2004.

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She moved to her current premises in North Street 10 years ago - and hasn’t looked back.

Sally adds: “It is difficult on the high street but if you work hard, give people what they want and offer excellent customer service then you have a chance.”

She is full of praise for neighbouring retailers, with a florist across the road - Rosedale House - setting up a display in her window.

Sally has branched out with an on-line business and has 2,000 customers in an in-store loyalty scheme.