Richard Pennycook our Group Chief Executive writes this piece in recognition of colleagues who went the extra mile for their communities during Storm Desmond.
“Just six years ago I was talking to my parents who were in their upstairs room, whilst down below was a large lake. Cockermouth, their home town, was completely inundated and everyone said it was a “one in a hundred years” event. Six years on, and Cumbria has been hammered again.
At Denton Street in Carlisle store manager Joanne Nicholson and her team delivered baby food, formula milk and nappies to the local rescue centre. At the Cumwhinton Road store Kate Gibson and her colleagues donated tea, coffee, milk, bread and soup to those sheltering in the community centre.
The same neighbourliness was shown by Katie Chandler at the Morton store. As the crisis took hold Katie was determined that her store had proper staffing even as she watched the flood water coming through her own front and back door. Eventually, Katie’s house was flooded with 5ft of water.
Ryan Roberts, a young supervisor from Cockermouth store, opened the shop at 6am on Sunday morning and used social media to tell local residents, and all the rescue services, that a hot drink and a warm room was available for anyone who wished to call in. Ryan also took drinks, biscuits and soup round to the Cockermouth rescue centre.
There were many colleagues across Cumbria who could not get home on Saturday evening or to work on Sunday morning. However, apart from Appleby and Grasmere where power cuts and flooding made it impossible, all of our stores across the county were open for business.
Co-op colleagues Andrew Martin and Ian Peacock, were stranded in our Appleby store for 32 hours after the nearby River Eden burst its banks. They’d started moving stock upstairs until the water became a torrent through the middle of the store. They were rescued on Sunday morning. Photo credit: Rex features
For those caught up in the worst of storm Desmond, thoughts soon turned to where they would live, how they would get to work and if their businesses could recover.
Our General Insurance Head of Claims, Jonathan Guy, was in Cumbria from early Sunday morning visiting customers to ensure that insurance was at the bottom of their list of worries. Jonathan met with 20 customers spending about an hour with each of them. We soon had a team of Loss Adjusters on the ground too.
Meanwhile, we put a call out to colleagues to help staff the phones at the call centre in Manchester as soon we realised how busy it would become. We had a fantastic response.
It’s at times like this that we can show our commitment to the local communities that we serve. I want to thank all of those colleagues, in particular in Cumbria, Lancashire and at our support centres in Manchester, for demonstrating what being Co-op means when it really matters.”