Seaton artist forced to close town centre shop

14:57 15 January 2014

Ursula Pratt MBE who is giving up her Seaton shop. Photo by Chris Carson

Ursula Pratt MBE who is giving up her Seaton shop. Photo by Chris Carson

Archant

Usala Gallery is a victim of competition from Tesco and internet sellers, says its award-winning owner

Artist and nationally acclaimed fundraiser Ursula Pratt is closing her Seaton gallery because she says it is no longer viable.

Honoured by the queen with an MBE for her charity work, she blames competition from Tesco and internet sellers for the store’s imminent demise.

“Since Tesco opened we lost 40 per cent of our card sales,” she said. “Online is making it even worse.”

Mrs Pratt has operated her Usala Gallery for the past five years, first in Marine Crescent and, for the last three years, in Fore Street.

It is a unique venture manned mostly by friends and volunteers but even without a big wage bill – there is just one part time paid employee - she says she can no longer cover her costs.

“As long as we were paying the bills we wanted to have a shop for Seaton but we have had a very, very bad year,” she told The Herald. “How the government say it is improving I don’t know. We survived for five years but the cards had to sell to pay the bills and when that went down we just could not do it.

“Seaton is dead – people go to Sidmouth or Exeter. It is very hard to survive here unless you do online yourself and I did not want to go into that.”

Mrs Pratt, who is closing the gallery at the end of the month, said she would miss all her nice customers and ‘having a laugh’. She praised her many friends and helpers including Janet and John Seward, Pamela Miller, Mikey Andrews and Brian Bucklar, who gave their time in making the gallery so special to Seaton.

She added “a special thank you to my daughter Hazel Busby, always friendly and very good in her job, I wish her luck in finding new employment. She would certainly be a plus to any company.”

* Born in Hamburg, Mrs Pratt moved to Britain in 1956 and set up East Devon Artists for Charity.

She was awarded the MBE in 2008 after helping to raise more than £170,000 for worthy causes, over nearly 20 years, travelling to Buckingham Palace to collect the medal from Prince Charles.

She said she intends to continue her charity work, organising

exhibitions at which fellow artists donate 25 per cent of their picture sale money towards worthy causes.

0 comments

Other News Stories

06:00
The wedding dress and posh frock party raised more than £800.

The ‘posh frocks and wedding dress’ bash, put on by Angela Lloyd and Vanessa Prettejohn, helped raise money for their friend, Lynsey Fearn, who is set to take on the mountain clibm later this year.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:00
Honiton's new neighbourhood beat manager PC James Mackay.

PC James Mackay, of Devon and Cornwall Police, is set to join the Honiton team as neighbourhood beat manager on Monday, July 13.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:45
Combe House in Gittisham. Ref mhh 9749-27-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Ken and Ruth Hunt have spent the last 17 years welcoming guests to Combe House, a Grade I listed Elizabethan Manor with an award-winning restaurant.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:12
The Colyton physics  students

Georgia Stidwell, 16, from Colyton, has won second prize in the University of Birmingham’s Young Geographer Photography Competition.

Read more
Yesterday, 10:00
Children's author, Laurence Anholt, met with Axminster library supervisor - Sarah Jones and Book Track award winners, Louisa Dare, Christopher Parker and Chirathi Nanayakkara. Ref mha 9864-26-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Christopher Parker, seven, Louisa Dare, six, and Chirathi Nanayakkara, nine, have now completed the challenge twice.

Read more
Wed, 12:30
Dr Joe Pitt uses the new machine on League volunteer Carol Rowe.

Dr Joe Pitt, dermatology consultant and local GP, took delivery of a new £950 dermatoscope last week.

Read more
Wed, 07:00
Rockin' Rory Ryan

The 12-year-old has just become the youngest Rockschool vocal student in the UK to achieve a grade eight for his singing – the equivalent of an A-level.

Read more
Tue, 18:30
Wood(bury) Stock 2015. Doctors Orders. Photo: Neil Ewins.

A successful blues, roots and folk music festival took place recently at Woodbury’s Malsters Arms.

Read more
Tue, 16:45
A blast from the past: What Honiton High Street once looked like when the town's shops were decked with Christmas light.

Those who are interested in donating should an email to mandynewman55@icloud.com

Read more
Tue, 12:45
Musical director Peter Kyrke-Smith and Writer Clare Salter with children from Branscombe,Farway and Broadhembury primary schools for their play in a day. Ref mhh 8110-24-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Budding singers, actors and dancers took to the stage for a one-off show as they put on a musical in a day.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 22°C

min temp: 16°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Midweek Herald e-edition today E-edition



Honiton's trusted business finder