Former tenant of mill hit in blaze praises spirit of 'incredible' Halifax business community

The tenants of Greenwood's Mill have been inundated with offers of support.
The tenants of Greenwood's Mill have been inundated with offers of support.

A businesswoman who started an international business from a mill devastated in an early-morning fire yesterday has described the Halifax business community as 'amazing'.

Claire O'Connor, who started Baby Ballet from humble beginnings at Greenwood's Mill in 2006, said that the response of fellow business owners offering help to tenants impacted by the blaze is typical of the spirit of the town.

Baby Ballet boss Claire O'Connor, in happier times.

Baby Ballet boss Claire O'Connor, in happier times.

Several businesses have offered space and assistance to the seven tenants thrown into limbo by the incident, with their premises likely to be out of action for several months.

And countless business owners have also sent messages of support to mill owner Tim Greenwood, who yesterday described his 'heartbreak' at the scale of the damage.

Claire, a family friend of Tim's for over 30 years, said she was moved but not surprised to witness the response.

READ MORE: Outpouring of support for owner of Halifax mill devastated in fire

Piece Hall Trust Chief Executive Nicky Chance-Thompsonwas quick to offer help to tenants.

Piece Hall Trust Chief Executive Nicky Chance-Thompsonwas quick to offer help to tenants.

She said: "Everyone pulls together in a situation like this. We all run businesses, we all know how difficult it is and what it's like.

"We have a brilliant community here in Halifax. It's so lovely and it's a true testament to the spirit of the town.

"Greenwood's Mill is such an big, iconic piece of that area of Halifax and people care about that."

The Piece Hall, based just a few metres from the former woollen mill, stepped in yesterday to secure free-of-charge storage and office space for two of the impacted businesses.

READ MORE: First pictures emerge of devastating fire damage to historic Halifax mill

Piece Hall Trust chief executive Nicky Chance-Thompson said it seemed like the obvious thing to do.

She said: "We got a call and I said to my team, 'we've got to use the space we've got to help whoever we can, as much as we can'.

"Yesterday was really quite emotional, seeing the devastation and the people outside the mill. It really resonated with us - we've got a similar-style set-up.

"Even just offering empathy and support - that's important. We wanted to make sure they felt that."

Nicky, who's year as Mayoress of Calderdale ended earlier this month, said she had seen that generosity of Halifax spirit shown before.

READ MORE: Everything we know about the devastating Halifax town centre mill blaze

"Whether it's a flood or a fire, that community spirit is massive for the town," she said.

"And it's everywhere you look. It's envied in a lot of places and it is right to be."

Croft Myl were also one of the first to offer support. Receptionist Claire Bush said: "We see how hard our tenants work, putting in all their time and energy to make a success of their business and I'm in no doubt the business owners at Greenwoods are the same.

"It's devastating and for the owner of the mill it must be unbearable, he will have his heart and soul in the building, just like our owners Vicky and Brian Nolan do.

"I'm glad to see they have all come together in support of each other but I'm not surprised by that; Halifax, I think, has a strong sense of business supporting business and particularly for people that work in very small teams or on their own that's really important.

"If we can offer any practical help at all of course we will be happy to and we have sent messages of support and solidarity to the business owners down at Greenwoods.

"Our hearts go out to them."