Wednesday, 03 March 2021

Village shopkeepers honoured for service in pandemic

Village shopkeepers honoured for service in pandemic

THE owners of an independent grocery shop and off-licence in Goring have been honoured for supporting the community through the coronavirus pandemic.

Jayesh and Varsha Patel, who have run Westholme Stores in Wallingford Road for more than 30 years, were presented with the Shop Local, Shop Little Heroes certificate by the National Confederation of Small Retailers.

Booker, their wholesale supplier, secretly nominated the couple in the autumn after learning about their efforts during the coronavirus lockdown between late March and early July last year.

The Patels, their children Nikita and Rupen and their staff worked with the village’s volunteer “street champions” to parcel up orders for people who were self-isolating or shielding due to medical vulnerability. Volunteers collected and delivered these and said that chatting with the family helped them cope with the stress of the situation. Mr Patel, who is known locally as Jack, and his wife helped to prevent goods shortages by limiting purchases and encouraging customers to split multi-packs where necessary.

Their daughter also delivered more than 125 chocolate eggs to staff at the Grange, Lyndhurst and Cleeve Lodge care homes over Easter as well as the Towse Court “extra care” flats and Coombe House in Streatley.

Mr Patel said the certificate and accompanying badge, which arrived unannounced in the post, was a welcome surprise. He has framed it and hung it above the shop counter.

“We were very pleased because it’s lovely to get that kind of recognition,” he said.

The business is still packaging goods for villagers who can’t get out during the current lockdown and only allowing two customers inside the shop at once.

Mr Patel said: “Things are still okay here as people seem to be taking the lockdown seriously. The streets are much quieter than during the first one.

“It will be interesting to see how the situation develops but I’m pleased that people are continuing to support their local businesses.”

Helena Fahie, who set up the street champions scheme, said: “Westholme Stores has been nothing short of amazing.

“They have been a constant point of support and positivity. Thank you to the whole family for being there for us and going above and beyond to make life a little easier and less scary for many people.”

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