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Christmas shop window competition: Hair and beauty salon Annabelle's wins the trophy in its first year of business




A business that opened only 16 days before the first coronavirus lockdown in March has received a consolation for a tough first year of trading.

Boutique hair and beauty salon Annabelle's won the Bishop's Stortford Christmas shop window competition organised for the 11th successive year by Isabel Hospice.

Nicola Holmes and her 'glam squad' first opened their doors in the former High Street premises of estate agent David Lee on March 7. The salon has since been shut more than it has been open as a result of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on personal care services.

Winner Annabelle's, the hair and beauty salon in High Street. Pic: Vikki Lince (43636665)
Winner Annabelle's, the hair and beauty salon in High Street. Pic: Vikki Lince (43636665)

Annabelle's – named after Nicola's daughter – was one of 28 shops and salons stretching from Northgate End to South Street that supported the competition organised by Renee Friend, the Isabel Hospice fundraising stalwart who chairs its Stortford supporters' group. As a result, £320 was raised.

Nicola said: "I wanted to design a window that would make children and adults smile as they passed, especially after a difficult year.

"The theme was a fairy princess with her carriage delivering presents through a forest with the help of her animal friends."

"When we were working in the salon and observed children stop, smile and say 'Wow! Look, Mummy, it’s so pretty!' it brought pleasure to all of us."

News of the win was greeted gleefully by Annabelle's staff. "After such a difficult year, we were thrilled and jumped up and down with excitement like children," said Nicola. "Let’s just say I had a few glasses of Prosecco to celebrate!"

The salon's success means the trophy stays in High Street for a second year after Fashion Flooring & Interiors opposite won the 2019 title.

Joint runners-up were home interiors shops Carla's Curios and Creations of Church Street and Lathams of North Street, with the 2017 and 2018 winner Barnes Flooring, of South Street, fourth.

Isabel Hospice Christmas shop window competition judges, from left, Gina Thomas (Bishop's Stortford BID manager), Katie Bradshaw (Coco's chocolaterie owner), Renee Friend (Isabel Hospice fundraiser) and Barbara Doherty (Isabel Hospice life president). Picture: Vikki Lince (43636673)
Isabel Hospice Christmas shop window competition judges, from left, Gina Thomas (Bishop's Stortford BID manager), Katie Bradshaw (Coco's chocolaterie owner), Renee Friend (Isabel Hospice fundraiser) and Barbara Doherty (Isabel Hospice life president). Picture: Vikki Lince (43636673)

The four judges were Bishop's Stortford BID (Business Improvement District) manager Gina Thomas, Coco's chocolaterie owner and former Liberty's window dresser Katie Bradshaw, Isabel Hospice life president Barbara Doherty and Renee Friend.

"Fantastic support from our town retailers in our 10th anniversary year, with imaginative and innovative window designs," said Renee. "It's encouraging that new businesses joined in this community event, bringing Christmas cheer to our town centre.

"Enormous thanks to all entrants and their generous donations, which raised £320 in aid of our local hospice, enabling our Isabel nurses to continue to support patients and their families locally and extending our care and support to Covid-19 patients and their families throughout east Hertfordshire in these difficult times."



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