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LOCAL couple Andy and Christine York, are celebrating 30 years of their business.
“It feels like a huge achievement when you look around and see how many people are still in business after that amount of time,” said Andy and Christine, talking to Melksham News. “There aren’t many businesses that have been going as long as us. We’ve certainly seen the town change over the years – plus our own business has had to change with the times too!”
Their Littlebrook Centre-based business, now trading under the name of Andy York Homes & Gardens, has adapted over the years to offer a number of services including picture framing, photo restoration and the sale of garden ornaments; but it originally it started life as a photography service.
In 1992, Andy decided to leave his job at an engineering firm, and turn a hobby into a career, launching Andy York Photography, working as a freelance photographer. He quickly found work as a portrait photographer, taking photos of friends, family and others who heard of him by word of mouth. He also became well known in the town as a wedding photographer and for taking portraits of Melksham youngsters at pre-school.
His business grew even further when he was approached by Melksham News in the mid-nineties to develop and print the photos for the newspaper, back before the days of digital cameras.
“I actually built my dark room at home for this very purpose,” explained Andy. “[Editor] Ian Drew and his crew would take the photographs, get the film developed and then he would bring it me, telling me which photos he wanted printed to go in the paper – it was all in black and white back then!”
Over the years, Andy and Christine estimate that they have photographed thousands of Melksham locals. “Too many to count,” said the pair. “But it must be thousands, especially pre-school children. It hits us how long we have been doing this for when we meet the babies of people we photographed when they were youngsters!”
Other highlights from their 30 years in business include Andy hosting his own photography exhibition, opening their shop in the Littlebrook Centre in 2006, their ‘Look Good Naked’ photo shoot service, and photographing celebrities at local events, such as Princess Anne at the opening the Wiltshire School of Gymnastics, and Damon Hill when he opened a tyre business in Westbury. “I had lunch with Damon Hill on his tour bus!” added Andy
The pair continue, “We’ve seen so much over the years and had a lot of help from people. So for all the people that have supported us and continue to support us, we are really grateful – and thanks to the team at Melksham News for their support over the years and being there at the beginning where it all started!”
About what’s next for Andy York Homes & Gardens, the couple say that they want to continue promoting the ‘homes and gardens’ side of their business, as well as focussing on selling Andy’s own artwork. They also have plans to expand their photo restoration service to offer the option to add colour to old black and white photos.
“There’s a few more years left in us,” they said.
Andy and Christine will be celebrating their anniversary this month with a live music fundraiser for Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Popular local musician, Antigua Joe, will be bringing his unique brand of reggae, soca and calypso music to the courtyard, as well as performing tracks from his new album, on Saturday 28th May, from 11.30am. They will also be offering 30% off selected items in their shop throughout their anniversary year.
Picture: Andy and Christine York celebrate 30 years of business.