Lifelong co-operator and new Society President talks about her passion for the role

Posted by Rob Smyth | 20/09/2017 | Category: Community

New Central England Co-operative President Elaine Dean has given a unique insight into her role and her passion for the Co-op movement.

Elaine, from Mickleover, was elected to the post in June and she is now responsible for the leadership of the Board of Directors to ensure the Society carries out its commitment to be a successful co-operative business and to serve the best interests of the members in line with its long-term strategy.

Reflecting on her first co-op memory, Elaine said: “Definitely the old Co-op Sports Ground in Derby.  Growing up all the family were members, we went every weekend if the weather was nice.

“The Bowling Green is still there to this day which the Society owns and we have built a proper clubhouse for the members, I’m the Vice Chair of the Bowls club which is run as a Co-operative – who would have thought it when I was growing up? 

“My great uncle George Spencer founded the Welfare Club, in Charnwood Street, that had activities for members, a reading room and social area. 

“I can also remember where my dad used to work at the Co-op because he sold the fireworks and that was really exciting.  We were a completely Co-op family, my dad worked there for 48 years and my granddad worked there 50 years.

“I am involved in co-ops because of my family, who imbued me with a passion for this business model as a way of working together. Collectively, my family has around 230 years’ service to the former Derby Co-op

“I still live in the same area I grew up in and feel a part of the community in Mickleover.”

Turning attention to her new role, Elaine described being named President as her ‘proudest moment’.

She said: “Being President has given me the opportunity to encourage the society to further embrace the spirit of co-operation in our community work.  I want to remind us of our roots and why we are a Co-op in the first place, we can make a positive difference.”

Away from her role as President, Elaine likes to unwind by sunbathing by a pool, travelling, gardening, and cuddling her dog Nellie.

She also has enjoyed campaigning for decades on a wide variety of causes close to her heart – something with which she continues with to this day.

She added: “In the 1970’s I campaigned with the late Lord Ashley to stop the public identification of rape victims, who faced being named in the paper. It was horrendous for the victims but we managed to get the law changed.

“I was appointed a magistrate in 1989, and in 1994 I chaired the specialist domestic violence court in Derby.

“Unfortunately I had to stand down as a magistrate after 20 years because I suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2009, I was very lucky to survive.

“I campaign regularly for human rights and support Amnesty International. Currently I’m sending emails to help Raif Badawi who was arrested in 2012 on a charge of ‘insulting Islam through electronic channels’.

“In 2014 his sentence was increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine. International pressure has managed to stop the Saudi government from carrying out his full sentence.

“The Co-op movement championed the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa and I’m so proud that Co-ops boycotted South African goods at the time. 

“I visited Robben Island in 2010 and was very moved by the guide there, whose name is Ntozelizwe Talakumkeni, he was a political prisoner, imprisoned five cells down from Nelson Mandela. 

“He thanked the Co-op movement for our help because small acts like that had made such a massive difference.”

Elaine also spoke of the many benefits of being a member of Central England Co-operative.

She said: “The best thing about being a Co-op member is being part of a Co-op family, taking care of people like our retired employees who need our support to beat issues like loneliness and to stay in good health for longer.

“We run educational visits and member groups for all ages and these are a vital part of the Co-op community support that we offer.”

Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing or visiting

About The Author: Rob Smyth

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Promoting the great work of Central England Co-operative across all forms of media.