A CAFE owner has delighted drivers with a stirring new sign.

Whitecliff Cafe in Saltdean was forced to close its doors following the Government lockdown designed to curb the spread of coronavirus last month.

But owner Julieanne Gilburt – who is also an artist, decided to use her skills to support the NHS and gave the cafe’s old sign a makeover.

It once showed a chef, but is now a 6ft tall NHS worker wearing scrubs and bearing the message: “Beep for our blue light services and key workers.”

Julieanne said: “It was devastating when we had to close, but after the initial shock I decided I wanted to do something to support key workers.

“I put a sign up the top saying ‘We love the NHS’.

“I was looking for an old board and my husband said ‘Why don’t you use our chef sign?’

“It showed a cook with a chef’s hat holding up a pizza.

“Instead of “We love the NHS”, we settled on “Beep for our blue light services and key workers” and we strapped it to the railings right by my bedroom.

The artwork has had some noisy consequences, Julieanne said.

“The beeps start at 7am.

“Occasionally you get a siren from an ambulance or a police car going past. My daughter warned me. She said ‘Mum, that’s going to be annoying’. There are no neighbours near us so we’re not annoying anybody, and in these worried, terrible times, it’s a comfort every time I hear a beep.

“I can always move it to another lamp post if it gets really bad.”

Julieanne is a professional artist, and used to display her work in a gallery under the seafront arches in Brighton’s Madeira Drive.

She said: “It took two days to paint.

“In the original chef sign, he had white baggy check trousers and I thought I’d turn them into scrubs. And he’s holding a heart instead of a pizza now. It symbolises how key workers have our lives in their hands.”

Julieanne is delighted with the outcome. She said: “It really puts a smile on people’s faces, and that’s what counts. Everyone’s going through such a hard time at the moment.

“I come from a family of key workers. My sister’s on the front line as a surgeon, my brother’s a headmaster and my other sister’s a firefighter.

“They’re actually out on the front line and there’s me whingeing about closing the cafe. But there are so many cafes and restaurants closing.

“We’re watching the space to see if we can transfer to takeaway.

“The cafe just building up its reputation. On a sunny day, we’d be absolutely packed. Then this happened. But then there are people dying out there, and it puts everything into perspective.”

• At The Argus, we are championing the work of traders during the coronavirus pandemic as part of our #BackingSussexBusiness campaign. We are always interested to hear how the community is coming together in this crisis. If you know of a local business battling to do all it can in these tough times and/or offering support to the local community, please get in touch at laurie.churchman@theargus.co.uk and rose.lock@theargus.co.uk.