Central England Co-op celebrates contributions of its ‘frontline fathers’ going and above beyond to support their communities in Derbyshire
Central England Co-op is marking Father’s Day this Sunday by celebrating some of the fathers who have been working on the frontline in its food stores and funeral homes during these uncertain times.
Over the past three months colleagues in the Society’s 262 food stores and petrol stations, as well as 132 Funeral Homes have been providing vital food and essentials and supporting families during such difficult circumstances.
Many at the same time have had to balance their key work for their communities with the challenges of disruption to home life with the closure of schools and nurseries, dealing with life in lockdown with small children and often unable to call on family for support.
To mark Father’s Day, Central England Co-op is shining a light on some of its ‘frontline fathers’ and finding out how they and their families have managed during these challenging times.
Among them are Derbyshire dads Paul Robinson, who leads the Ashbourne Road Food Store in Derby, Ben Wingfield, Store Manager at Blenheim Road in Ashbourne and Kevin Tromans, Store Manager at Harrison Drive, Wirksworth.
Paul, whose fiancée Anouska is also a key worker at the retailer’s Oakwood store, has three children at home – Lily aged 11, Ethan aged nine and Isla aged six.
The 45-year-old said: “My children have been incredibly resilient, and I am very proud of them. They have been attending school a couple of days a week during lockdown, so this has helped them a lot. “The teachers have been great and have regular conversations with the children about what's happening, how they feel and if they have any fears, and what they can do to be able to remain strong through this period of uncertainty.
“It has been testing balancing work and home, although it’s been a great help being able to send the children to school. When at home we are obviously like other parents, having to manage home schooling, often flying solo as the other one has been working, as well as doing the usual daily chores around the home.
“It’s been a juggling act to say the least, but just like the situation in store, it’s become the 'new normal'. We are lucky we get one day a week together as a family, so make the most of this time together playing or doing crafts.
“The children are extremely proud that we are key workers and always say when they joined in with the 'clap for carers' that they were clapping for mummy and daddy and all of our work friends. They also provided rainbows for both mine and my partners’ store to display in our windows, as well as at home.”
Ben Wingfield has been Store Manager at Ashbourne’s Blenheim Road Central England Co-op since it opened in 2018 and has three girls at home – Ava aged 11, Amelia aged eight and Matilda aged six.
The 38-year-old, from Bullbridge, Belper, said: “It’s been challenging as both my partner and I are keyworkers. Beth works in a school and fortunately she has only had to work a few days, so she has been left with the majority of the school work which isn't my strong point.
“The children made use of the good weather by going on nature walks and riding their bikes. There's been another addition to the family, a puppy called Tobey, so he has kept them occupied.
“After the initial two weeks of madness everything became "normal" so life hasn't been affected that much, although it’s meant a lot more running around delivering essential shopping to our parents and grandparents.
“It has made me realise the things that were taken for granted before, like teaching your 70-year-old parents how to use Facetime is a real challenge, as well as the disappointment of having a family holiday cancelled for this year.”
Kevin Tromans, 42, from Hasland, has been working on the frontline at the retailer’s Harrison Drive Food Store in Wirksworth and has two teenage daughters Kaci aged 18 and Ruby aged 14 at home, along with wife of 16 years Jeanette.
He said: “My eldest child Kaci has been busy finishing off her college work for travel and tourism and also works at the Central England Co-op in Hasland. Ruby is in Year 10 starting her first important year of GCSE work, she is using many different online forum to complete her work and lessons.
“They have both tried to keep as busy as they can, helping out in the garden, some DIY, having daily exercise and also eating together as a family which we think is really important, it’s a great time to talk.
“It’s been challenging balancing work and home trying to support Kaci and Ruby with their education in what will be very important years, but we are strong and very positive people who will always support each other.
“As a family we have always valued family time and this pandemic has highlighted this even more for us. We keep supporting each other, stay active, keep busy at home, have some relaxing time too and keep in touch with family and friends.
“We always support and listen to each other try our best to support our girls with their education and they are proud of me being a key worker and being able to support my community in these challenging times.”
People can keep up to date with what is happening in their local community by visiting a dedicated online hub at www.centralengland.coop/updates
Notes to editors
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.
Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish.
Our 7,900 colleagues serving our Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.
Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.
We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.
Visit www.centralengland.coop for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood
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