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Above and Beyond Awards winners

Last issue we revealed the outstanding winners of SLR’s inaugural Above and Beyond Awards 2024. Here, we take a closer look at two of our champions.

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Company Owned Store Colleague: Claire Fleming, Spar Portland Street, Troon

Claire Fleming

“Treat others as you would want them to treat you.” For Claire Fleming, the well-known maxim is truly a way of life. Her unbridled compassion and kindness for others made her a very worthy winner of the Company Owned Store Colleague award.

The judges were humbled by Claire’s innate drive to “do the right thing” by others – and blown away by the exhaustive number of ways in which she does it – and all that on top of managing a busy town centre convenience store!

In the two years since Claire joined Spar Portland Street in Troon, she’s transformed it into a thriving community hub and built close bonds with many of her shoppers for whom she has become a true friend and vital source of support. How many store managers do you know who cook hot and healthy meals for elderly shoppers? Or who do their washing? She’s been a hand to hold at some of her shoppers’ hospital appointments and helped others to secure vital in-home care.

The last year has also seen Claire implement a truly meaningful change to Spar Portland Street itself – transforming it into a “dementia friendly” space. After noticing that many of her local shoppers had dementia, Claire worked closely with several local care homes and dementia charities to make the store a safer space. All staff received training in how to best support shoppers with dementia, including what signs to look out for, what to say, how to comfort them and who to call for help should it be needed. Staff have also been trained in how to make the checkout process as simple as possible, including helping shoppers to pack their bags and pay.

Claire’s incredible efforts have also seen her secure Spar head office funding for a refurbishment of Troon’s sunken garden – a nostalgia-filled space that’s cherished by the whole community and especially its elderly customers and those with dementia. Commenting on her heroic efforts, Claire said: “I’m always looking for ways to help others and give back. We are all going to get old or face struggles at some point and it’s always been my goal to treat others how I would want to be treated in those moments.”

Independent Store Colleague: Sophie Skelton, Aramark Leuchars (Premier)

Sophie Skelton

Located behind the wire on a military base, Aramark Leuchars is no ordinary convenience store and Sophie Skelton is certainly no ordinary supervisor. Sophie has worked in the store for just over four years now and has made a phenomenal difference to its customers, offer and performance in that time.

As a military wife, Sophie clearly understands the unique challenges and demands of life on a military base – a fact which has helped her to forge genuine and meaningful relationships with many of the store’s customers.

She knows that at times, life can be stressful, lonely or even scary for some of them – especially the young ones – and no matter the hour, or how busy she is, Sophie will always find the time for a chat, a joke or just to listen.

Sophie’s store manager Katrina Johnson says that her kind and caring nature has helped to make the store a truly welcoming and safe space that is treasured by all.

Sophie also plays a significant role in the store’s successful performance, helping to boost sales with her keen focus on NPD and by gathering customer feedback and adapting the range accordingly. She’s also an absolute champion at pulling together engaging in-store events.

“No matter what’s going on in her life that day, Sophie’s customers will always get her happy, cheerful and genuine service,” Karina says. “She remembers everything: birthdays, which of the customers went home for the weekend, if they had a date, who has a deployment coming up. It’s quite extraordinary. She doesn’t need to do it, but she does, and it gives me great pride to work with someone who is not just knowledgeable and helpful, but also deeply empathetic and engaging.”

For Sophie it’s all very simple. “That’s just me. I’m just doing my job.”

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This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.