MARY Portas is regarded as the UK's foremost authority on retail and brand communication. After beginning her career as a 'Saturday girl' in John Lewis, Mary rose to fame with Harvey Nichols and is credited with transforming the brand into the world renowned store and restaurant it has become. Her television career began in 2007 and she became known as Mary Queen of Shops. Since then, she has been in a variety of TV programmes turning businesses around. In May 2011, Mary was commissioned by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to lead an independent review of the high street and delivered her report last December outlining 28 recommendations to rescue failing high streets. The Government responded by giving towns the opportunity to bid for funding, becoming Portas Pilot towns in a major regeneration programme. Tiverton was one of those chosen in the second round of grants.