Catherine Fookes, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Monmouthshire and Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Member of Parliament for Torfaen, visited independent businesses on Abergavenny's high street to celebrate Small Business Saturday, the grass-roots campaign which encourages shoppers to support independent traders in the run-up to Christmas.


Ms Fookes and Mr Thomas-Symonds visited four independent businesses: Vive Ut Vivas, Bookish, La Mediterannea and Gwagle and spoke with business owners and staff members about the importance of shopping locally. 


Vive Ut Vivas visit (Catherine Fookes left; James Falconer middle; Nick Thomas-Symonds right)
Vive Ut Vivas visit - Catherine Fookes with James Falconer and Nick Thomas-Symonds (Catherine Fookes)

On Lewis Lane, they met with James Falconer, founder of Vive Ut Vivas. Mr Falconer showed Ms Fookes and Mr Thomas-Symonds the 'Winter 23' collection he curated with help from a local graphic designer, Millie Evans, and spoke about how he set up his business during the pandemic with a redundancy pay-out from his previous job. Mr Falconer said, "Being situated on the high street as a business allows you to be a part of the local community. That's why I was committed to opening a space here after lockdown rather than keeping everything online. We do have a website, and we ship worldwide, but it is thanks to people in town that we continue to keep our doors open."


Later, Ms Fookes and Mr Thomas-Symonds visited Bookish, the new Abergavenny branch of the award-winning Crickhowell bookshop, which runs local writing groups and brings well-known authors to local schools and communities; La Mediterranea Food UK, an Italian food stall on Cibi Walk that serves a vast range of hot and cold food produced by business owner Domenico Scarpetta and his team in their unit next to Abergavenny train station; and Gwagle, a flexible co-working space for professionals, freelancers and creatives, based in the town centre.

Bookish visit (Nick Thomas-Symonds left; Emma Corfield-Walters middle; Catherine Fookes right)
Nick Thomas-Symonds with Emma Corfield-Walters and Catherine Fookes (Catherine Fookes)


Ms Fookes told the Chronicle, "We are incredibly lucky to have so many independent small businesses in Abergavenny. These businesses here and across Monmouthshire are the lifeblood of our high streets and their owners deserve to be celebrated. We must support and nurture our high street by shopping there, not just in the run-up to Christmas, but all year round." 


Mr Thomas-Symonds added, "It was great to join Labour's Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Monmouthshire, Catherine Fookes for Small Business Saturday to speak to a number of local businesses. 

 La Mediterranea Food UK
Catherine Fookes samples the foodie delights at La Mediterranea Food UK (Catherine Fookes)

"Abergavenny is just one of many towns across the country with fantastic small businesses, but they need a UK Government that provides them the stability and certainty to thrive. Only Labour will deliver that as a pro-worker, pro-business party."

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds has also lent her support to small businesses on a visit to Brecon.

Jane Dodds MS said: “I am delighted to support Small Business Saturday this weekend.

Across Wales our small businesses and entrepreneurs are the heartbeat of our economy, without them our high streets would be feeling a whole lot emptier.

I urge everyone this weekend to go out and support a small business near you, especially during the festive season.”