A retailer whose store was set on fire by thugs has vowed to continue trading after community support helped her overcome fears of reopening.

Romanian-born Andreea Abraham’s family owns The Village Shop in Norwich, a small store specialising in Eastern European and British products.

During recent Brexit-related protests, arsonists threw a brick through the store’s window and started a fire in what is believed to be a racially-motivated attack. Although no one was hurt in the fire, the store and its stock suffered severe damage.

We want to reopen the shop as soon as possible as a way to say thank you to everyone who helped and cared about us

Andreea Abraham

“I have never suffered abuse before the attack,” said Abraham, whose family has been running the shop since February.

In the aftermath of the brutality, however, the community rallied around Abraham’s family. A local woman set up a Crowdfunding page to raise money for them, raising more than £30,000 to date.

“It started as the worst nightmare and we were very concerned in the beginning [about continuing to run the store], but when we saw all the help and love we got from so many people everything changed,” she told Retail Express.

“Now we want to reopen the shop as soon as possible as a way to say thank you to everyone who helped and cared about us.”

The Village Shop is due to reopen in a week, once it has been completely refurbished and restocked using the funds raised, with the remainder donated to charity.

Abraham said the community response has been “overwhelming”.

“I just could not believe how this sad story turned into such a great example of love and kindness,” she said.

“So many people helped us in various ways – volunteers helped us to clean the shop after the fire, people came with flowers and a lady brought us food on the day of the attack.”

Locals also stuck heart-shaped notes outside the shop with positive messages written on them.

“Independent retailers really are appreciated for their work; this shows that residents love having smaller stores in their towns,” Abraham added.