Donald Hyslop, chair of the Trustee of Borough Market, reflects on the six months that have passed since the terrorist attack on the Market
On 14th June, the Borough Market community gathered together for one of the most emotionally charged events in this institution’s long history: a ceremony to mark the reopening of the Market following the terrorist attack 11 days earlier. Hundreds of people crammed into the tight passageways at the top of Three Crown Square to pay their respects, share their hurt and express their solidarity.
While the days that preceded the ceremony were among the darkest that anyone here can remember, the strength and togetherness that shone through that morning made the return to something approaching normality just that little bit easier. At a time of great trauma, the response of all the people here—the Market’s staff, traders, neighbours, regular shoppers and occasional visitors—offered clear affirmation that this isn’t just a place of commerce; it is a community, bound by genuine friendships and a clear sense of belonging.
Resonating far and wide
The months that have followed have shown us how much Borough Market means to people not just here in Southwark but across the country and from all around the globe. The return of our shoppers, as well as the thousands of letters, emails, social media messages, blog posts and floral tributes have confirmed to us that what we do here genuinely matters. The basic ethos of Borough Market, with its sense of welcome, its emphasis on human interaction and its opportunities for pleasure and sharing, clearly resonates far and wide.
Nowhere was that more obvious than in the extraordinary response to our appeal for donations to a trader support fund to aid those traders whose livelihood had been threatened by the attack. Hit by missed trading days and lost stock, some of the independent businesses that make the Market such a bastion of small-scale production and specialist produce simply could not have sustained themselves without the generosity of hundreds of supporters, from the big local companies that pledged thousands to the individuals who each sent a fiver.
Protection and inclusion
On Sunday, it will be six months exactly since the attack. Next week, we will be gathering in the Market for another ceremony. We’ll be switching on our Christmas lights with a small, low key ceremony, open to everyone. We will unveil a special festive installation, themed around protection, inclusion and timelessness. The fruit, herbs and spices that feature in the installation were all sourced from Borough Market traders. Each element will carry its own meaning: cinnamon for protection, rosemary for remembrance, oranges for good fortune. Collectively they capture the riot of colours, smells and human engagement found at Borough Market.
This year, there will be a palpable sense of sadness and remembrance—there are wounds that have yet to heal—but there will also be a lot of love, togetherness and hope on display. We will mark the start of the Christmas period with food, drink and music—but most importantly we will share it with those friends, colleagues, neighbours and visitors who make Borough Market what it is, and what it will continue to be.