Tonbridge butcher is driven up the wall by accident

FEEL THE PANE: Ben Stoneley outside White’s new window PHOTO: Craig Matthews

Tonbridge butcher is driven up the wall by accident

by Andy Tong | 22nd November 2018

AN AWARD-winning butcher’s shop has finally reopened after an elderly woman drove her car into the shop window.

White’s in Martin Hardie Way had to shut for six weeks after the 82-year-old mounted the kerb on October 2 and ploughed into the facade.

Ben Stoneley was relieved to open his doors again on November 13 ahead of the build-up to Christmas – though some of his equipment is still not functional.

The 42-year-old from Southborough has worked there for 17 years with his mother Vivienne Bird.

CRUNCH TIME: The car goes through the front of White's Butchers in Martin Hardie Way

He said: “In all that time we’ve only ever been closed for two days – the Saturdays for my wedding and for my mum’s wedding.”

He recalled the dramatic events, saying: “The old lady drove into the shop, and the main display cabinet didn’t stop till it hit the back wall.

“I was standing behind it. It was chaotic, everybody was very shaken up and tearful, including my mum who was working out the back.”

“Apparently it was an automatic car and she said her foot slipped off the brake pedal.

“But I think she must have hit the accelerator in a panic, she hit the shop so hard.”

He said the pensioner ‘does use the shop from time to time’, adding: “I went round a week afterwards to see if she was alright. She’s OK, she had some seatbelt bruising.

“She’s given up her driving licence, which I think is a good thing,” he said. “Accidents happen but when you’re on the receiving end there’s a lot of mess to sort out.”

Mr Stoneley is still waiting for the window display cabinet to be repaired. “The insurance has been a nightmare,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with three different insurance companies, the lady’s, the landlord’s, different assessors, trying to get them all to speak to each other. And these insurance companies do drag their heels.

“We are insured for loss of trade but so far it’s hard to tell how it’s affected us. It’s the next couple of months that will really count.

“It’s the busiest time of the year for us with Christmas coming up, and now we’ve got our deals and order forms ready.”

He said the community around the well-known parade of shops had been supportive. “People have been very good, my phone hasn’t stopped.

“I did put a sign up on Facebook saying the first 10 customers through the door would get a free sausage roll. There were a few waiting outside.”

A cut above the rest

White’s won a gold award at the 2016 National Meat Products Competition for its West Country pasty, silver for its lamb shank pie and bronze for its gourmet burger; the shop’s Cumberland, Toulouse and pork and chilli sausages have also won awards at the competition. “I am a right foodie, I love my food and very fussy about what I sell,” says Ben.

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