A WOMAN from Poole has started a petition to stop Marks and Spencer from closing in the Dolphin Centre.

Lovingly nicknamed 'Mrs Marks and Spencer' by her friends and family, Tricia Hercoe started the petition after news broke that her beloved local store would be closing its doors for good in January 2022.

She said: “When I first heard about it I said to my husband ‘we’ll have to move’, it’s silly I know but I’ve never lived somewhere where there’s not an M&S.

“It’s an institution, I’ve used it all my life and the thought of not having one where I live is horrible.”

After emailing the M&S chief executive’s team, Tricia decided to start the petition hoping that there was room to budge on the ‘proposed closure’.

She said: “The email said that the proposed closure is not one to be taken lightly. Shopping patterns have changed, so they have to change the stores to make sure that they better serve the customers.

“So I read that as not being definite.”

Having never started a petition or even signed one before, Tricia decided to get online and set-up the petition to stop M&S from shutting.

She said: “I’ve never done anything like it before, I suppose I’ve never felt this strongly about anything.

“I’m amazed at the response - I started off by seeing if I could get 100 signatures, then once it hit that I went for 500, then 1,000 and now I’ve set the target to 1,500.”

Once she hits 1,500 signatures Tricia is planning on sending the petition back to the CEO of M&S to see if they will overturn their decision to close the store.

If the store must close then Tricia is hoping the store will open a food hall and cafe somewhere in Poole town centre.

“It’s a meeting place for the community and it’s not just the older people that go there.

“The staff recognise you and it’s a place you can go and feel safe.

“There are plenty of empty shops in Poole town centre, not big enough for a department store but I’m sure there’s enough space for a cafe and food hall.”

At the time of writing, more than 1,100 people have signed Tricia’s petition to keep M&S in the Dolphin Centre open.

It was revealed last week that the M&S store would close in January after 50 years of trading, meaning Castlepoint’s shop and the store in Weymouth would become the only department M&S stores in Dorset.

Visit www.change.org/p/poole-residents-local-mp-s-poole-bid-visitors-keep-marks-spencer-poole-dorset-open to view the petition.