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Owner of The Sun Shop in Willesborough sells up after 15 years following cancer diagnosis


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After 15 years in the business, the owner of a popular tanning shop has sold up to focus on her health as she battles her cancer diagnosis.

Kim Barton started The Sun Shop in Willesborough, a tanning and beauty salon, from scratch as a family business with her husband Andrew, daughter Kayleigh and son Mark.

Kim ran the shop with her daughter Kayleigh. Picture: The Sun Shop
Kim ran the shop with her daughter Kayleigh. Picture: The Sun Shop

She says she has loved getting to know her loyal customers over the years but sadly, following a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March 2020, the 53-year-old has decided to sell the Church Road salon to focus on her health and her family.

After an emotional last day, Mrs Barton said: “I would like to thank all my staff who have been there along the way, but most of all the customers for their support.

"We will miss them the most although I’m sure we will still see a lot of them from time-to-time.

“I am happy to leave The Sun Shop in the hands of the new owners who I hope get as much joy and happiness, and meet as many lovely people as we have.

“It is now time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.

Famous names including Gregg Wallace from MasterChef have used The Sun Shop
Famous names including Gregg Wallace from MasterChef have used The Sun Shop
Andrew and Kim Barton
Andrew and Kim Barton
Kim Barton working at the shop. Picture: The Sun Shop
Kim Barton working at the shop. Picture: The Sun Shop

“It has been an amazing experience from start to finish.”

Before opening the shop in 2007, Mrs Barton worked at a sun bed parlour in Folkestone for four years.

When she moved back to Ashford, she decided to open her own premises.

She added: “My daughter was away working abroad for three months but when she came back she needed a job so we went into it together. My son was doing a bit of part time work there too when he left school.

“Six months after we opened, the credit crunch hit so we struggled through it but in the end we had a thriving business.

Deirdre Mewse from the Pilgrims Hospice with Webbo and Kirstyn from kmfm and Kim Barton during a cheque presentation to the hospice in 2009. Picture: Nigel Donkin
Deirdre Mewse from the Pilgrims Hospice with Webbo and Kirstyn from kmfm and Kim Barton during a cheque presentation to the hospice in 2009. Picture: Nigel Donkin
Kim's husband Andrew maintaining the sun beds. Picture: The Sun Shop
Kim's husband Andrew maintaining the sun beds. Picture: The Sun Shop

“I wanted to keep it but this cancer is not going away, but hopefully it can be kept at bay.

“It’s time for me to move on but it was still a very emotional thing to do.

“I didn’t really tell lots of people because I was quite emotional. I’m really excited for the new owners, it’s just sad for me.”

Mrs Barton says some of her favourite memories include raising £265 for the Pilgrims Hospice in 2009, and her son Mark dressing up as a gorilla one Valentine’s Day handing out roses to customers.

Kim Barton has sold The Sun Shop in Willesborough after 15 years. Picture: The Sun Shop
Kim Barton has sold The Sun Shop in Willesborough after 15 years. Picture: The Sun Shop
Kim Barton has sold The Sun Shop in Willesborough after 15 years. Picture: The Sun Shop
Kim Barton has sold The Sun Shop in Willesborough after 15 years. Picture: The Sun Shop
The Sun Shop in Church Road, Willesborough
The Sun Shop in Church Road, Willesborough

Lee Ryan from the boy band Blue also visited in 2019, and MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace paid regular visits.

After eight sessions of chemotherapy, Mrs Barton has now finished treatment and is awaiting results from her final scans, which are due next month.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands that spread throughout your body.

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