Sussex retailers Ramesh and Nirmala Shingadia have been awarded the Freedom of the Parish by Southwater Parish Council in recognition of their 40 years of exceptional contributions to the community.

The couple own and operate two Budgens store in Horsham with their family and Ramesh has won numerous awards during his respectable time in the sector.

The retailers were recognised for providing “employment opportunities to Southwater residents, various community engagement, and input into the Southwater Neighbourhood Plan,” said Southwater Parish Council.


Speaking to Convenience Store, Ramesh expressed his happiness from receiving the award: “We were very, very privileged, very honoured and very humbled to receive this accolade from the Parish Council.”

Over the past four decades, the family’s Budgens store in Southwater, West Sussex has expanded from its once 1000 sq ft to 2700 sq ft and has undergone several refits. “As the village has grown, we’ve grown with it,” Ramesh explained.

“We have provided employment over the years for a lot of local people, which I think was one of the great recognitions in the village. We’ve got around 25 staff which very much keeps the economy in the village going. I think its a contribution that maybe doesn’t get recognised immediately but it is a part of what we do [convenience retailers] for the community.

“What you recognise over the years is that when you have a community store and a store within a village, is that you need the community as much as they need you,” he said.

Beyond their store, the family actively engage in the local community and contribute to various charitable organisations.

“I sit on the Parish Council for the local plans and committees such as anti-social behaviour. We support the Christmas fair, sponsor local schools, we help with nurseries and my son is now a governor at the local schools. We are always engaging and supporting the community.

“A lot of people do recognise the fact that we are constantly investing in the store and keeping up with the times and providing the level of services the community needs. You need to adapt and be relevant to your community,” Ramesh commented.

Ramesh was appointed as the new chair of the Association of Convenience Stores board last September.