A BIG leap signalled take off for Bideford s new Asda store on Monday, courtesy of young local athlete Lauren Priest. English Schools triple jump champion Lauren, 16, from Newton St Petrock, leapt over a giant till roll tape to mark the official opening

A BIG leap signalled "take off" for Bideford's new Asda store on Monday, courtesy of young local athlete Lauren Priest.English Schools triple jump champion Lauren, 16, from Newton St Petrock, leapt over a giant till roll tape to mark the official opening of the store alongside the Atlantic Shopping Centre in Clovelly Road.Lauren is being helped with her training costs to the tune of £500 through Asda's "sporting chance" initiative.Hundreds queued to be among the first to look around the store. Some were there nearly two hours before the 9am opening.But there were some who turned up to protest - a dozen-strong group with placards, headed by local environmental activist Hector Christie, made their point in the car park near the entrance.They were approached by Asda staff, but given bottles of bubbles and allowed to continue.Mr Christie said they were passionate to save local shops and support the local community. Colleague Rupert Hawley said they wanted to keep money in the town and not have it taken away to the USA.Meanwhile, the rest of the crowds enjoyed band music, balloons, strawberries and cream before touring the new store.Store manager Chris Tilley described the opening as "absolutely fantastic." They were extremely busy and customers absolutely loved the store, its clothing, its non-food items and its space, he said.The protesters had been thanked for coming to the opening, said Mr TilleyWhen they said Asda gave nothing to the local community he had replied that he had not seen them at the Asda fashion show, which raised £600 for the local charity Torridge Special Friends."I don't think they know enough about Asda or Woolmark to make a comment on us," said Mr Tilley.