From work experience to Colleague of the Year - inspirational shop worker Aaron recognised at awards ceremony

A popular young team member at a Kettering food store who has overcome significant personal challenges to become a ‘great role model’ has scooped the top prize at a major retailer’s national awards ceremony.

Aaron Cathorne, Customer Services Assistant at Central England Co-op’s London Road Food Store, was named Colleague of the Year at the Society’s annual Leading Brilliance Awards, which aim to recognise the achievements of its over 8,000 colleagues across its food, funeral and travel businesses.

The 18-year-old, from Kettering, started his journey with the Society as a 16-year-old schoolboy on work experience. He attends Isebrook Special Educational Needs Cognition & Learning College and impressed the team so much they invited him to apply for a permanent role at the store.

Aaron received multiple nominations for the award from both his colleagues and the Head Office team, such has been the impact he has had during his time with the Society.

Aaron said: “I love working with all my team at London Road and I also love meeting new customers and trying to help any way I can. I live just around the corner, so I see a lot of familiar and friendly faces.

“I did not think I would win the award at all. I am just a Customer Services Assistant and was up against a store manager and someone from Head Office. When they said my name, I was so shocked I could not move out of my chair!”

The awards judges praised Aaron for always ensuring the customer comes first, which makes him a ‘great role model to his peers and other young people joining the Society’.

Aaron added: “It is so nice to be recognised like this. My manager wants me to keep pushing myself and train to become a team leader which I am going to do. I enjoy working here so much – the Co-op is my life.”

London Road Store Manager Craig Wheeler said Aaron had become a hugely valued member of the team and was well deserving of recognition.

He said: “Aaron has had such a positive impact on all the team here at London Road and is truly passionate about his work and helping our customers and members. We are so proud of him and delighted that he has been recognised with this award.”

Central England Co-operative Chief Executive Debbie Robinson presented all the night’s winners with their awards, with other categories announced on the night including Leader of the Year and Community Advocate of the Year.

She said: “I was immensely proud to present my first Leading Brilliance Awards as Chief Executive of Central England Co-op and it was such a pleasure to spend the evening with so many inspirational and deserving colleagues and teams, and to rightly recognise their achievements.

“It is so important that we celebrate the wonderful contribution our colleagues make day in, day out to providing our customers and members with fantastic service and to making a real difference in our communities.

“I would like to say well done to all those who received nominations and a big thank you for their continued dedication and commitment to the Society.”


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. 

It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.

Central England Co-operative has over 400 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.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2019.

Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.

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

For more information visit, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook:

Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390

Email –