SPAR store manager Linda Carrington has become the representative of independent convenience sector in the New Year Honours for 2021, receiving a British Empire Medal.
Several names from the grocery industry have been honoured in the list, with Dave Lewis, former boss of Tesco leading the pack with a knighthood.
Carrington, who manages A.F. Blakemore’s Laceby Lodge forecourt convenience store in Grimsby, has been drecognised for her exceptional services to the community during Covid-19. She has almost 40 years of service with the company.
“I am truly honoured to receive this award. When I first found out about it I couldn’t believe it – in fact, I actually deleted the Honours email as I didn’t think it was real,” she commented.
“I couldn’t have achieved this recognition without the hard work of my SPAR team, so I see it as an honour for all my colleagues who have worked tirelessly throughout the year to keep essential services going for the community. It’s fantastic to know that we’re really making a difference.”
Blakemore Retail said Carrington has been a role model for its store managers during the pandemic. She was an early adopter of social distancing and hand sanitation, and led daily briefings for colleagues.
Throughout the year, she has shown outstanding commitment to supporting vulnerable members of her local community, going above and beyond with her store colleagues to deliver essential goods to people’s homes.
One of the SPAR customers who Linda delivered to, Steve Trist, whose wife has been shielding, commented: “As lockdown took its toll, the team literally became our lifeline. Living in a rural area and having no close family or friends who were not themselves in isolation, we were not well-placed to get through.
“I can only start to tell you how important and how valued and appreciated their help was and still is. In such difficult times it is clear that Mrs Carrington and her team were themselves on the frontline. I feel very privileged to have met such helpful, kind, caring and supportive people.”
Carrington also works closely with A.F. Blakemore’s charitable trust, the Blakemore Foundation, to support local good causes, and volunteers to help homeless charities in Grimsby. She is the Charity Champion for Blakemore Retail’s Hull and Humberside region, coordinating the fundraising efforts of 15 SPAR stores in the area.
“This award recognises Linda’s immense dedication, kindness and talent for bringing her store closer to its community. In the words of one of her close colleagues, she is truly unique,” Chris Bacon, operations director at Blakemore Retail, said.
“Linda is one of the hidden heroes in our nation’s food supply chain, giving 40 years of her life to pioneering ways to run a food store to best serve a local community. She takes her commitment to her team and her community to the highest level.
“Linda’s drive and leadership has resulted in teamwork that has pushed her store to be an exemplar of best practice in community food stores. This year’s lockdowns have really highlighted the importance of community stores being led by someone embodying community spirit.
“Linda is a much-valued colleague, and here at Blakemore Retail we are bursting with pride.”