Getting our city centre back up and running safely has been a top priority over recent weeks, as the lockdown has eased. And it’s been all hands on deck to help make this happen. Our teams helped to safely reopen non-essential retail stores, and more recently, pubs and restaurants.

As part of our #HereForDerby campaign we speak to Gary Marshall. As the Council’s Bereavement Services Manager, he’s already been at the centre of a huge frontline effort to keep essential services running during the pandemic.

And now – as we continue to pool resources to support our priority projects – Gary’s been drafted in to help get Derby’s Market Hall back in business.

Like shopping centres up and down the country, the market hall was forced to close its doors back in March, when strict lockdown measures first kicked in.

The historic building – which is currently undergoing a multi-million pound transformation – is now once more welcoming shoppers inside, after reopening this week.

It’s a welcome boost for the city centre, as well as for the traders who run businesses from the hall, but it’s been no easy task to bring it safely back into use.

Colleagues from the Market Hall team have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to meticulously plan and risk assess all the different options to help the building open safely, and in line with Government safety advice.

And to help finalise the plans for reopening, DCC’s Bereavement Services Manager, Gary Marshall, has taken an unexpected turn from his day job after being called upon to use his experience to help reopen the hall.

“I’ve been working with the team for about the last three weeks,” said Gary, who has previous experience of working within the Council’s markets service.

“The team have done all of the hard work and I simply can’t take any credit for that. They gathered all the pieces of the jigsaw, and I just helped put the final bits together, and get the approval we needed to reopen safely.”

Since reopening on Tuesday (7th July), around 800 shoppers a day have made a welcome return to the city’s Market Hall stalls – following the social distancing rules and other measures that are in place.

“Given the layout of the building, together with the added constraints of the ongoing building work, it’s been a bit of a logistical nightmare to work through the most realistic way to open up safely,” said Gary.

“Obviously the safety of customers, traders and staff is absolutely top of the priority list and so it has taken a little longer to be able to open the Market Hall than other shops.

“But this is an iconic building for the city and it’s great to have been able to work with colleagues and play a part in getting it back up and running – it’s another big step towards the ‘new normal’ as Derby recovers from the pandemic.”

One-way systems, social distancing rules and security on the door to control the flow and number of people are just some of the measures in place, and while there have been a few small teething problems like for any venue reopening, it’s all working well added Gary.

“I was down there on Tuesday to see it all in action, and the shoppers and traders I spoke to were definitely happy to be back!”

Meanwhile, Gary is still also working alongside his usual colleagues in the Cemeteries and Crematorium team – a service which has been on the stark frontline, carrying out up to 100 funerals a week at the height of the pandemic.

“It’s been a challenging few months for the service, but we’ve pulled together to get through it, and support families during really difficult times,” said Gary.

“Given the nature of our work as a Council, there has been so much important work going on across all services. Seeing how teams and individuals have pulled together to keep things going is brilliant and being able to be involved in the reopening of this important building for the city has been really rewarding.”

For anyone who would like to visit the Market Hall, its opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 7.30am to 5pm.

Read more about the reopening here.