In 2016, Eddie Parsley, shop manager, was voted the UK winner in The People’s Choice Awards, one of the categories of Plunkett Foundation’s Rural Community Co-operative Awards, recognising the outstanding contribution he made to his community.
In the application, Alison Finnemore, chairman of the shop association, told us: “Eddie is caring, kind and efficient. He welcomes customers and makes each one feel special. He supports and trains volunteers. He really deserves this accolade. He is known as ‘The Face of The Shop’.”
‘The Shop’, as it is known, was opened in 2011 by John Bercow, MP, and it has played a vital role in reducing isolation for rural people, acting as a social hub and creating support networks for those who for one reason or another are disadvantaged, Eddie himself included.
When he was appointed manager of the shop in 2011, Eddie himself described this as ‘life-saving’. When Eddie applied for the manager role, he was recovering from brain cancer, and was suffering from depression and low self-esteem as a result of losing his job at a large supermarket chain. North Marston Shop committee spotted the potential of his wonderful caring character, combined with his excellent knowledge of food retail, and snapped him up.
When the winner was announced, Alison added: “This is a wonderful surprise! It is a great accolade for all who have worked so hard to provide the best of shops and support for our community. This award is for everyone who supports The Shop, and makes it such a special social hub.”