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Former carnival organiser aims to line Diss highstreet with flowers




Doreen Collins, front left, and Colin Edwards, front right, of Diss Garden Centre with some early Floral Diss backers, including South Norfolk Counillor, Graham Minshull. Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.
Doreen Collins, front left, and Colin Edwards, front right, of Diss Garden Centre with some early Floral Diss backers, including South Norfolk Counillor, Graham Minshull. Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.

A former carnival organiser is on a mission to line a town centre street with flowers to help boost visitor numbers and trade.

Doreen Collins wants to bring the high street to life by adding around 10 or more planters along the length of Mere Street and Market Place in Diss.

Doreen has been busy visiting shops in the area and said they are backing her all the way, as are other business on the outskirts of town.

First, she has to raise between £2,000 to £3,000 to buy the planters, small and large, as well as perennial plants from Diss Garden Centre.

“I visited all the shops about a month ago to get a feel for what people thought about the idea and put a notice on the Diss community noticeboard,” said Doreen,

“An awful lot of people made positive comments and traders all said: ‘yes, let’s go for it’.

“On that basis, my thought is ‘let’s do it now’. I have never liked to hang around. If you can do something to make a difference, then why not. Let’s go for it. If there are problems, then we will face them.

“I am hoping we can get hold of the money for the planters, and then it will be all systems go. Let’s get it done.”

Doreen was inspired to start the scheme, called Floral Diss, after planters were installed around the Heritage Triangle. However, her inspiration goes back further.

“Many years ago, we visited Usk in Monmouthshire, Wales, and they had a beautiful town centre market place, full of flowers – it really did look beautiful,” she said.

“Then, when the Heritage Triangle was done with the planters, it was apparent that we’ve got nothing down the other end and we need to create that feel good factor again.

“We need something pleasurable to look at, which brightens the place up, and gives people the feeling that this is actually really rather nice, encourages more visitors and even residents to look and think: ‘we’ve got a lot going for us’.”

Doreen, who worked in the tourist office in Mere Street between 1989 and 2016, hopes the scheme will also boost trade.

“There has been a downward trend in all market towns and, to me, this is a simple way of creating that good feeling again,” she said.

“There are not as many people about – shops have closed, for whatever reason, and, after all the work was done at the other end of town, I think everyone got a little bit down.

“High streets are having a hard time all over and unless we actually do something we are going to lose it forever.

“Mere Street is also the natural entrance to Diss and flowers throughout the town will also join up the two shopping areas.”

Diss and District Rotary Club and Diss Town Guide Committee have so far pledged £500. Doreen hopes businesses will sponsor the planters with the only commitment being maintenance.

“There won’t be any major financial outlay, just buying the odd new plant now and again and, perhaps, dead-heading once in a while,” added Doreen.

“They can also have free advertising, perhaps with a plaque, and it would also be great if groups, or anyone wishing to help, could get involved.”



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