Leicester Market's Dawn Alfonso calls it a day after nearly 40 years
For nearly 40 years Dawn Alfonso could be found behind a market stall in the city centre.
But now the 64-year-old, who sold lingerie, has decided it's time to put her feet up.
Dawn, who organised a 14,000-signature petition 10 years ago to keep the market where it is, choked back tears yesterday as she was presented with a huge bouquet of flowers and a host of other gifts outside the Corn Exchange.
She said: "I've fought many battles and I'm pleased to say there have been some great successes. Not least when they wanted to move the market away from the city centre to Humberstone Gate. "It's the heart of this city and that's where it should stay."
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"I grew up with the market. My mum was a trader, so it's in my blood. It helps bring this city to life and there's never a dull moment."
For 12 years she was secretary of Leicester's branch of the National Market Traders' Federation (NMTF), and is also vice-chair of Leicester Market Forum and a councillor for New Parks,
Several of her fellow traders applauded her for the efforts she has made to promote the market over the years.
She welcomed future investment by the city council and said she appreciated the efforts being made by city mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, to inject new life into it.
"I'm still part of the market forum so I won't be forgetting about the place," she said. "This is an emotional day for me, but I'm not getting any younger. Gone are the days when I can start work at 6am and work 12 hours straight."
Paddy Deevey, chair of Leicester's branch of the NMTF, said: "She has been a stalwart of this market and will be sadly missed.
"The work she has put in on behalf of everyone is very much appreciated. She has also raised thousands of pounds over the years for good causes and this place just isn't going to be the same without her."
Rob Linnet, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall on the market, said: "Dawn has given her heart and soul of this market. She has been a real champion for it and worked endless hours.
"Her commitment has been unbelievable."
Vicki Chapple, who also runs a fruit stall, said: "She's going to be a big loss, but we wish her all the best."
Councillor Paul Westley, who is chair of Leicester Market Forum, said: "Dawn's excellent service to the market over the years has been second to none.
"As vice-chair of the forum I know she will carry on that service just as much as she has in the past."