INDEPENDENT businesses across Hyndburn were surprised to be greeted with a beautiful bunch of flowers when they re-opened their stores on Monday.

From retailers to hairdressers, to nail and beauty salons, 26 owners were shocked but delighted when they received a bunch of blooms from Open All Flowers in Clayton-Le-Moors.

Owners Janet and Nigel O'Rourke, who have owned the flower shop for nearly 30 years, said they just wanted to remind independent businesses that people were thinking about them.

Nigel said: "Between ourselves, we just thought it would be a nice way to welcome them all back. We are stronger as a group and that was the ethos behind it all.

"We have missed them all so we thought it would be nice to give them something to welcome them back and let them know they are not alone.

"You could see the delight and smiles when they were receiving the flowers knowing that somebody cared about them. It was quite emotional."

The couple concentrated on hairdressers, beauty salons and fashion shops who have been closed for months, with thought also going into sending bouquets to business owners who have supported key workers during the pandemic.

Flowers were delivered across the borough to businesses in Great Harwood, Oswaldtwistle, Accrington, Rishton, Baxenden and Clayton.

One of the recipients, Anne Whittaker Bridal in Accrington said the gesture brought the town back together after a difficult year.

Owner Lindsay Crowney said: "It was such a lovely surprise to receive our beautiful flowers yesterday.

"Finally reopening after such a worrying year, it’s an amazing gesture from Nigel and Janet to bring the town together again.

"Thank you both for being so thoughtful."

Hollie Barnes, owner of children's clothing company Feral and Funky Kids Co., also recieved a bunch of flowers on Monday.

She said: "I was absolutely overwhelmed with the spontaneous gesture. Hyndburn really has come together to support small businesses like myself. That just was the icing on the cake."

The flowers were delivered to members of Hyndburn Independents, a social media group which brings together small businesses across the borough, bringing them closer together and getting more people to shop local.

The group is run by Cheryl Duffy, who has Acorns of Lancashire dry cleaners. She is supported by Bev Wood at J2A hair and beauty in Accrington, Julie O’Hara at Barbara Kay shoe shop in Accrington and Laura Bolton from Simple Accounting.

Cheryl said: "It's really good that Nigel and Janet stepped up and decided that ­— a lot of these businesses have been closed solid for three or four months.

"They felt like they would like to do something to give back to the independent businesses to welcome them back and let them know that they have been missed by everybody and I think it's wonderful.

"These businesses are the backbone of the local economy."