Praise for High Street Hero who cooked 1,700 free meals for NHS workers in lockdown

By Chris McKeon, Local Democracy Reporter

Divyesh Patel from Tower Stores in New Brighton (Screengrab from video posted on Facebook by Wirral Council)
A convenience store worker who cooked 1,700 free meals for key workers over lockdown has been named Wirral’s first High Street Hero.

Divyesh Patel, who runs the Tower Stores in New Brighton, received 30 nominations from the public as part of Wirral Council’s campaign to recognise local businesses that had gone the extra mile during lockdown.

Already a local icon, Patel and his family put his cooking hobby to good use by making and distributing vegetable curries for key workers all over Liverpool as well as people living in homeless hostels.

He said: “I’m feeling very proud that what we’ve done has been appreciated by the community.”

As well as providing food for key workers and the homeless, Patel provided a contactless delivery service for people who were shielding to make sure they could get the supplies they needed without putting themselves at risk.

He said: “We had a notice in our shop window that we will deliver anything, no minimum charge, to all our local customers and we offered a service that if you needed gas or electric topping up, you just give us the card and the money and we will do it for you.

“We tried to help all our customers, especially those shielding. We took care that they got everything so we could keep them going.”

Introducing our first High Street Hero, Divyesh Patel from Tower Stores in New Brighton. 🎉 His family-run business…

Posted by Wirral Council on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Patel’s popularity with the community in New Brighton was reflected in the many nominations he received as part of Wirral Council’s High Street Heroes campaign.

One said: “The most amazing family. Tirelessly worked throughout the lock down cooking meals for NHS staff and delivering shopping to people shielding. Massive thanks and appreciation to this amazing family.”

Another said simply: “I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

A Wirral Council spokesperson said that Patel was just the first shop owner that the council had asked to front its “Shop Local” campaign, and that all shops could be considered “High Street Heroes”.

Cllr Janette Williamson, the borough’s finance chief, said: “Not only did people nominate local shops and businesses but they told us why, with stories about the dedication and sacrifices businesses have shown.

From the additional long hours worked, home deliveries and fantastic customer care – there were many examples of business owners going the extra mile, even just phoning their customers to check up they are well.

“And it was not just small independent businesses have been nominated, but we have had praise too for people working in supermarkets and national chains for all of their hard work and dedication too.”

The campaign aims to highlight the role local shops have played in supporting the community during lockdown and encourage people to keep supporting local traders in turn.

Cllr Williamson added: “This campaign underlines community spirit and the lengths businesses have gone to serve their customers and now thanks to the campaign, we’re hearing how much those same customers value them in return.”