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Businesses in Gravesend selling Benny the Beluga whale Christmas-themed gifts

By Jess Sharp

Benny the Beluga has been spotted in the Thames for the past two months and now people are creating Christmas gifts to mark his friendly visit.

Businesses across Gravesend have been coming up with different present ideas for Benny fans this festive season.

Marie's Tea Room, in the High Street, has been selling Christmas cards and fridge magnets featuring the famous whale.

A Christmas card created by artist Steven Butcher
A Christmas card created by artist Steven Butcher

Shop owner Graham Broadbent, 31, said: “I didn’t think that this was something I would be selling, but they have been a hit and now we have placed an order for mugs as well.

“We have been selling out and we even had a waiting list for the cards.

“We have just ordered 200 more, which is a huge order for us. We have never had something like this before.

“There has been a boost of people from outside of Gravesend coming to visit us just to try and spot Benny.

“I even had a family from Canada come in and the first thing on their itinerary was to spot him.

“It has been absolutely fantastic. People were moaning about the fireworks being cancelled, but Benny is really helping local businesses and it’s great.”

Belinda Beckford, who is customer services officer for Visit Gravesend, with a knitted Benny
Belinda Beckford, who is customer services officer for Visit Gravesend, with a knitted Benny

The cards and magnets were designed by photographer Jason Arthur, who lives in Gravesend, and features a photograph of Benny wearing an edited Santa’s hat.

Mr Arthur said: “I thought I would try it as a laugh and then when people started seeing it on TV everyone wanted to buy it.

“Benny has been great for business. I have had some of the Christmas cards being sent to Australia.

“I am surprised at how many have been sold so far and I am just chuffed.”

The cards and fridge magnets can be purchased in Marie’s Tea Room. Forget Me Not Vintage is also selling Benny Christmas cards.

These were created by artist Steven Butcher especially for the shop.

A Christmas cards by photographer Jason Arthur
A Christmas cards by photographer Jason Arthur

Shop owner Sarah Cheshire said: “I think so far we have sold about 200.

“After we featured on TV, we had a queue out of the door and were selling them to people for about half an hour.

“They are flying out of the door, it’s Benny mania.

“Since he has been here we have had lots more customers that we wouldn’t normally see. People can’t get enough of him.

“It is just such a nice story and the council has been so proactive and mindful of Benny and the whole community has come together.”

You can purchase the Benny card in store or online at www.forget-me-not-vintage.com

Also proving popular are knitted whales. Urban knitter Sarah Childs, 39, who lives just off Old Road West in Gravesend, created the Bennys which are on sale at the Visit Gravesend office in the Borough Market just off the High Street.

The Urban Knitters meet at the market every Thursday morning and the baby Bennys are on sale for just £1.

Riverside pub The Ship and Lobster, in Mark Lane, Gravesend - where Benny likes to swim regularly - has been selling Benny’s Beer, brewed specially by the Iron Pier Brewery in Northfleet.

  • Visit Gravesend is in the process of putting up a board in the market with details of where the whale was last spotted. If you spot Benny, you can either email info@visitgravesend.co.uk or tweet @visit_gravesend so the details can be logged and shared with Benny fans.

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