Martin and Gillian Smyth, owners of a Spar store in Clarawood, Belfast, were named winners of the Association of Convenience Stores' inaugural Community Heroes Awards at last week's ACS Summit in Birmingham.
They picked up a £1,000 prize for running a series of initiatives to help their community and offering customer care that judges said extended far beyond their store. This included organising a Clara-wood in Bloom competition and a 'Check up at the Checkouts' day to focus on healthy eating. They also cooked Christmas dinner for pensioners.
The Smyths beat off stiff competition from Nigel Dowdney, owner of the Stalham Shopper in Norfolk, and Jonathan James, a Budgens retailer from Soham, Cambridgeshire.
The winners of the ACS 2006 Scholarship were also revealed at the event. Lyana Doyle, a trading manager for Musgrave Budgens Londis, picked up the retail award while the supplier prize went to Victoria Burgess from Cadbury Trebor Bassett. Both will join the ACS study tour to Canada and the NACS show in Las Vegas this autumn.
The Summit was David Rae's last as ACS chief executive. He used the opportunity to re-iterate the organisation's call for the Competition Commission to act to establish a level playing field in the grocery sector.
* The ACS's James Lowman has been promoted to the association's board of directors and has been given the title of public affairs director.