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

07:00

Hundreds are expected to roll up their sleeves again for this year’s Seaton Big Clean.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:00

It’s Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 28, and we want to know what Devon’s favourite pancake topping is. Sweet, savoury or both? Decide in our poll here...

Read more
Yesterday, 11:59

Lurcher Beau, aged six, has spent the last three years at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe and watched more than 1,000 dogs find their forever home while he has been overlooked. Can you give him the home he deserves?

Read more
Yesterday, 11:48

Shady Tree lecture will highlight some of the resort’s major events

Read more
Yesterday, 11:18

Sidmouth protesters among those arguing against ‘draconian’ changes that they say have ‘left retirement plans in tatters’

Read more
Thu, 14:42

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has agreed to increase its share of council tax.

Read more
Thu, 10:10

This year’s theme is Time, Tides and Tectonics,

Read more
Wed, 11:36

FatFace team donates £600 to local RNLI volunteers

Read more
Wed, 11:27

A dinner held in memory of one of Branscombe’s ‘big characters’ has raised £520 for the British Heart Foundation.

Read more
Wed, 10:01

Honiton’s Royal British Legion (RBL) faces closure after more than nine decades of service if volunteers do not come forward to carry on its work.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 7°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

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

Read Online

Image
Read the Midweek Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Local business directory

Honiton's trusted business finder

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Find planning applications