Blakemore Retail is incredibly proud to announce that SPAR store manager Linda Carrington has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in The Queen’s New Year Honours for 2021.

Linda, who manages A.F. Blakemore’s Laceby Lodge forecourt convenience store in Grimsby, has been deservedly recognised for her exceptional services to the community during Covid-19. She has almost 40 years of service with the company.

Linda commented: “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!

“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.”

During the pandemic, Linda has been a role model for store managers across Blakemore Retail and the wider country. Back in March, when many were still looking for guidance on how to operate their businesses, she was an early adopter of social distancing and hand sanitation, and led daily briefings for colleagues. In September she led her store to being crowned Best Multiple Managed Convenience Store at the national Convenience Awards.

Throughout the year Linda 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.”

Linda’s work, however, does not stop at SPAR. She works closely with A.F. Blakemore’s charitable trust, the Blakemore Foundation, to support local good causes, and tirelessly volunteers to help homeless charities in Grimsby. All year round, including Christmas Day, she hands out hot snacks to the homeless community. Linda is the Charity Champion for Blakemore Retail’s Hull and Humberside region, coordinating the fundraising efforts of 15 SPAR stores in the area.

Recently, when a local cake shop was helping the elderly during Covid-19, Linda donated her own gift vouchers that she had earned at work to support them.

Blakemore Retail Operations Director Chris Bacon commented: “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.

“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.”

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