I witnessed something pretty special last week. After being closed since Christmas Eve last year, The Lamppost Cafe opened its doors again, rising from the dirty floodwater that devastated our little town on Boxing Day last year. That's pretty remarkable in itself. I've watched in awe as the business folk of this town piece Hebden back together. The lights in the shop windows are beginning to shine again. And for the ones that aren't open quite yet, there is so much work going on behind the scenes. They're all amazing. I know folk have had to dig deep after that emotional roller-coaster rocked up in town late last year. Their strength, determination and resilience to re-build this town is quite remarkable.
Our friends Amy & Claire from The Lamppost are a shining example of this resilience. They were flooded three times in December last year alone. The last one was much more devastating than anyone ever expected and has meant the cafe doors have been closed for a little under 3 months. We've seen them go through it, and somehow, they've managed to keep their spirits up. So, you can imagine the joy that was felt as the key turned in the lock, and the doors were opened for the first morning on Tuesday last week.
In came the first bread deliveries from Blue Sky Bakery, the milk from John Hitchin, and the delicious cakes from Craggs Cakes were unwrapped and placed delicately on their stands. When one business is affected by the floods, it has a knock-on affect for so many others too.
So it was not only Amy & Claire with big smiles on their faces, but also their local suppliers, and of course their delighted customers (hounds & humans) who could resume their cosy chairs by the fire.
Then it struck me as the first customers strolled in. It's the sense that this place is far more than just a cafe. It's a community, a hub. In walked Geoff, one of The Lamppost's daily visitors - he even has his own seat. Well, it had to be replaced as the old one was washed away. Geoff joked that he might get a suit made out of the same material as his chair so he could just blend into the background!
There's now a plaque on the wall to mark the spot where the old chair sat, made by another regular - Dave Chugg from The Laser Hive.
Amy was busy making the first batch of pupcakes.
Then came the sound of the coffee machine as it whirred into life and the first cup of the day was made.
And in raced the first customer for a dog beer and pupcake.
There was a flurry of hugs as regulars came in, bringing their well wishes, flowers, cards and excited pooches! I heard stories of some dogs walking past The Lamppost with sad faces whilst the doors were closed. Billy was one such customer.
Loki made himself comfortable by the fire.
Winnie - guarded the dog beer...
Moss came in to celebrate his 2nd birthday.
For those who are here to take in the atmosphere and sample the wonderful food & beverages, there are even toy wooden dogs so you don't feel left out without a hound!
All this was happening inside, whilst the river was being dredged outside, to hopefully help to prevent such a fierce flood in the future.
The ball library was launched - genius!
And artist Stephen Hanson brought his latest work to hang on the walls.
Here's Hooper, soaking up the atmosphere.
And Lucy too...
It's great to have The Lamppost open once again! Although we don't have a dog, we are having a serious think about this at the moment - watch this space! For now, we'll just enjoy the surroundings, and those jacket spuds and cakes! There are other fab Hebden Bridge businesses re-opening their doors again in the not too distant future. So a few more lights will be shining. Hebden Bridge is very much open. Come down to the cobbles soon, with or without your hound!