Sheffield department store to close for day after ‘inspirational’ founder dies of cancer

Deborah Holmes in the Sandersons department store she founded at the Fox Valley development in Stocksbridge
Deborah Holmes in the Sandersons department store she founded at the Fox Valley development in Stocksbridge

A Sheffield department store is to close for the day out of respect for its ‘inspirational’ founder, who has died of cancer, aged just 56.

Deborah Holmes was a partner with her husband Mark Dransfield in Dransfield Properties, the development firm behind the Fox Valley shopping centre in Stocksbridge, where in 2016 she opened the department store Sandersons.

Tributes have poured in since she died last week surrounded by her family at St Luke’s Hospice, in Sheffield, following a long illness.

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The store which she founded has now announced it will close this Saturday, when her funeral is due to take place.

In a statement posted on Facebook, it said: “Thank you for all the messages of love and support for our founder and managing director, Deborah Holmes, who passed away on January 2.

"We have a collection for St Luke's Hospice in Deborah’s memory in the store.

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“Sandersons will be closed on Saturday, January 12 as a mark of respect.

“Thank you for respecting Deborah’s memory and her family’s privacy at this difficult time.”

Deborah grew up in Stocksbridge, where her parents ran a corner shop, and went on to become a highly successful businesswoman.

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She launched the Stocksbridge Trader newspaper in the late 1980s and after meeting her future husband at an awards ceremony for young entrepreneurs they went into business together.

Deborah was described by her sister Amanda as a ‘devoted’ mother to her two daughters, while Mark called her a ‘true inspiration to all who knew her’.

Sandersons Facebook page is awash with tributes to a woman described as a ‘beautiful lady inside and out’, whose ‘beautiful personality never changed and will live on through all who had the pleasure to know her’.

One of the most moving messages is from a woman who only met Deborah once but described it as a life-changing experience.

Alison Jayne wrote: “I only met Deborah once, when I told her what an amazing experience shopping in Sandersons was.

“She threw her arms around me, gave me a lovely hug and encouraged me to realise my own dreams. I am about to do just that and open my own bridal boutique.

“The world is definitely a darker place without Deborah. She was wonderfully warm and beautiful. Life is so cruel.”

Deborah’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, in Bolsterstone, Sheffield, this Saturday at 10am, followed by a private cremation.