Through our Shop Local, Shop Little Heroes awards we are saying thank you to members for their selfless acts of kindness throughout the coronavirus crisis. Meet our 12 finalists.
Jawad Javed, Day Today, Stenhousemuir, Scotland
Jawad tracked the needs of his customers and found that hand wash and gel sanitiser supplies were running low everywhere. He managed to source these products and gave out over 3,000 free Covid-19 hand care packages to his elderly and infirm customers. As the pandemic progressed, people started to need face masks and food packages; again Jawad established a supplier for these products and quickly got them to where they were needed most, at no cost. Jawad said: “We won’t rest on our laurels, and will continue to be at the forefront of keeping our customers and their families safe.”
John Vine, Newsworld, Church Stretton, Shropshire
Several grateful customers nominated John Vine, the owner of Newsworld in Church Stretton, Shropshire, for the Heroes award for rising to the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak. One customer said: “Nothing seems too much trouble – he is there in the shop working tirelessly from early morning until closing time. He accesses food, prescriptions, coal, peat and in fact anything people may need. During this pandemic the store has been a bedrock of support and helpfulness for everyone.” John still takes about 150 orders a week and has no intention of ending the service because so many people rely on him.
Tahir Ali, Premier Top Shop, South Shields
During lockdown, Tahir frequently donated to local food banks, hospitals and charities. He also gave away 150 leather footballs – signed by former Sunderland and Spurs player Pascal Chimbonda – to local children. He said: “I saw how many people were suffering and needed to do everything that I could to give back to my community. My store was very busy throughout the pandemic, but my mind was elsewhere. I saw how the vulnerable members of my community were suffering and felt like I had a duty to help them.” Tahir also found the time to write a book titled ‘The Extra Mile’ detailing his experiences as a store owner during the pandemic.
Raj (Sunny) Patel, QMS Stores, Swindon
Raj Patel – or Sunny as he is known – has always been a stalwart in his local community, but since the coronavirus pandemic took hold his charitable activities have increased fourfold. Having had a traditional Indian upbringing, Sunny treats all elderly people as his parents. He has a network of deliverers who deliver everything to local people who are old and vulnerable. If a family needs home cooked food, Sunny will make sure they get it. He is very well known among civic authorities and key workers in Swindon, as he has delivered hot meals to emergency services, hospitals and cash and carry outlets during the pandemic.
Rocky Jalota, Rowley’s Newsagents, Almondbury, near Huddersfield
Rocky Jalota, owner of Rowley’s Newsagents in Almondbury, near Huddersfield, has worked alone, seven days a week, in his shop during the coronavirus pandemic. During this time he has juggled running the store with delivering newspapers and other essential supplies to residents in his community. He also teamed up with a nearby restaurant to provide free cooked dinners on Fridays and desserts on Saturdays for elderly and vulnerable people in the area.
Mamun Rashid, Linthouse Convenience Store, Govan, Glasgow
As a pillar of his local community for many years, Mamun Rashid has built up an army of loyal customers. Many of them nominated Mamun for the Heroes award after he set up a free home delivery service for elderly and vulnerable people in the local area and initiated a 10 per cent off shopping deal for all NHS workers and elderly customers. In addition, when the ATM provider introduced a 99p charge to all transactions on the machine attached to his shop, Mamun negotiated with the provider to have the charge removed and in return he makes a charitable donation of £1,000 a month from his own pocket.
Amish Shingadia, Londis Caterways & Post Office, Horsham, West Sussex
Together with his team of 10 staff, Amish Shingadia set up a free home delivery service for elderly and vulnerable customers living within a mile radius of the store, pulling together a band of local volunteers to make the twice daily deliveries. People who were confined to their homes were able to place orders for groceries and have them delivered to their door the same day, with all associated costs covered by the store. Amish said: “We made the promise to customers before they entered their isolation that we would look after them. Our community has, over the years, given us so much love and kindness, and this was our time to return this. We desired no profiteering from this and so any costs we subsidised.”
Trudy Davies and Ian Woosnam, Woosnam & Davies News, Llandiloes, Powys
Since lockdown in March, Trudy Davies and Ian Woosnam, co-owners of Woosnam & Davies News in Llandiloes, Powys, haven’t had a day off – making free deliveries to the rural community as far as 15 miles away. They started a Key Worker Cuppa campaign for customers to donate money so that key workers could call into the shop and have a free hot drink, with matched funding from the store. Trudy has also set up a drop-off point for face mask ear guards, asking the community for buttons, fabric and wool for those who can and have time to knit. She then sends them to local people living away, medical students and hospitals, while people in the community can come and get one if they need it. Many local carers and care homes have picked them up.
Terry Caton, Londis Store and Post Office, Chesterfield
In March, Terry Caton, owner of the Londis Store and Post Office in Chesterfield, set up a free, same day delivery service for any groceries or essential items and Post Office services to local people aged over 70 and self-isolating. At the same time he recruited a team of volunteer deliverers, with more than 100 people coming forward to support his efforts. At its height, Terry’s store was delivering to over 50 households a day and rewarded the 1,000th customer with free shopping. Throughout this time he has donated to local food banks and a baby essentials charity, who struggled for stock when essentials were getting scarce.
Dennis and Linda Williams, Broadway Convenience Store, Edinburgh
Big-hearted Dennis and Linda Williams set up a hardship fund at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown to help people in their local community who found themselves up against hard times due to the impact or effect of the pandemic. To the amazement of the couple, who own the Broadway convenience store in Edinburgh, they raised a total of £9,000 in donations from the local community, including a £1,000 donation from Dennis and Linda themselves. The hardship fund has been put to great use by helping unfortunate members of the public who were struggling to pay bills or feed their family. The fund paid for shopping vouchers and also helped with travel arrangements for members of the community who require social care.
Carl and Wendy Howe, Cockles Convenience Stores, Cartmel and Flookburgh
Carl and Wendy Howe, who own the Cockles convenience stores in Cartmel and Flookburgh, set up a doorstep delivery service for customers in the local area who were isolating or vulnerable. Carl said: “We are looking into carrying on with these deliveries after the pandemic is over, as our customers say they would like the service to still run.” Wendy added: “It’s lovely to know we are able to help the most vulnerable in our community, particularly those family members who don’t live close by who can call and arrange shopping for their parents and know they have been looked after.”
Julie Kaur, Jule’s Convenience Store, Telford
Julie has taken her community work and charity fundraising efforts to another level during the Covid-19 pandemic. She regularly visited elderly and high-risk residents of a local housing trust to check if they needed anything, and as a special pick-me-up treat provided each of them with hot cross buns for Easter and cakes for VE day. Julie also delivered shopping to those who feared going out – always after hours and in her own car – for no extra charge. Despite having to cancel the majority of her regular charity events, such as coffee mornings and races, this hasn’t stopped Julie. She recently took on the challenge of running or cycling seven miles a day for the Severn Hospice, raising more than £1,000.