A CHARD resident received a wonderful surprise on her 80th birthday.

Mary Cross has always longed to visit Taunton Indepedent Market (TIM) since it began in March 2020.

But she has struggled to get public transport from Chard to Taunton on Sundays.

And so Michelle Beck, organiser of TIM , decided to surprise the resident for her birthday.

She booked the Somerset Travel Company and asked them to pick up Ms Cross on May 16 and bring her to the market on Castle Green in Taunton.

Chard & Ilminster News: Mary Cross with Phil Anderson from The Somerset Travel Company, at Taunton Independent Market

"The Taunton independent Market is there for the people of Somerset to enjoy, and obviously to support our amazing local businesses," explained Ms Beck.

"Mary had messaged me on Facebook about the market, to say that as much as she would love to support us, she was finding it impossible to get to Taunton on public transport, on a Sunday.

"When I realised that it was her birthday, I thought it would be a lovely treat for her to come along to have a look around.

"I called Dan Abbott from The Somerset Travel Company to ask for his help and of course, he said yes immediately and together we hatched a plan.

"Mary had a wonderful morning in Taunton, it bought back lots of happy memories for her and it was a joy to see her chatting to the stallholders."

Ms Cross, who used to work at County Stores in Taunton, was then given a hamper of treats donated by market stallholders.

Chard & Ilminster News: Mary Cross with Michelle Beck at Taunton Independent Market

The hamper included a plant from Axbridge-based Coastal Succulents, Cacti & Alpines, a doughnut birthday cake from Taunton-based Dulces Street and Chutneys from Bumblees Preserves.

Ms Cross then returned home, again receiving a lift from the Somerset Travel Company.

The next Taunton Independent Market will be on Saturday, June 13, from 10am until 4pm.