Laurie McKinnon Ilminster Spar forecourt

Source: Appleby Westward

Laurie received a trophy from Alex Schute, business development manager for Appleby Westward, for his commitment to the local community

Laurie McKinnon of Spar Ilminster in Somerset, has made so many donations to local groups and events that his community has just awarded him a trophy in recognition of his support.

The generous retailer has lost count of exactly how much he has donated to various causes, but claims that the figure is over £25,000 in the past year alone.

“We sponsored the local football team [Ilminster Town FC] and then there have been spin-offs from there,” explains Laurie. “A guy involved with the football did a walk for prostate cancer so I donated for him.

“I also sponsor Ilminster Cricket Club and then I sponsored two youngsters on the team to play in Sri Lanka.” 

He’s also helped out the local boxing club, fishing club, the South West & Wales Baseball League and Ilminster Diamonds Majorettes, plus Chard Rugby Club and the juniors, including a £6,000 donation for them to go on tour to Amsterdam.

Spar Ilminster_baseball sponsorship

In 2022, he bought tickets for all the kids in the surrounding schools to attend the local fireworks show, so that parents only had to worry about tickets for themselves. “I donated £6,000 for the tickets for the kids,” he says. “It meant hundreds and hundreds of kids could come.”

He claims that he is only too happy to help, especially since covid, which saw sales go into overdrive. Turnover rose 50% during lockdown and remains around 25% up on pre-lockdown figures and Laurie is determined to share the wealth by giving back to locals who are supporting the business. 

“I never sit down and think ’what’s my budget?’,” says Laurie. “I don’t worry too much about the fine detail - as long as I have money in the bank and I’m selling enough stuff and I know I’ve got enough to keep the store developed, and enough for me and my family, then that’s alright. I don’t want to be too greedy, there’s no need.” 

He adds: “We’ve been here for 23 years and lots of people that are organising all these things have been customers for years … it’s nice to be able to give something back to the community that supports us so much.” 

The people of Ilminster are so grateful for Laurie’s support that they decided to organise a special event in his honour where he was presented with an award.

Community spokesman Paul Webber says: “Laurie does so much for the community that we put on a community day for him. We approached his Spar wholesaler Appleby Westward and they agreed to sponsor the trophy which was presented to him at the event.”

The South West & Wales Baseball League are equally thankful for Laurie’s help. “We are a league without a membership income so the McKinnon donation has impacted our league massively,” commissioner Kevin Snow tells Convenience Store.

Kirsty McQueen, troupe leader of the Ilminster Diamond Majorettes, adds:

“Having the support we have had from Laurie has lifted the whole troupe. It is a struggle for everyone at the moment, especially for parents with children that want to be involved in things like majorettes and the other groups and sports Laurie supports.

“The support he has given the troupe has, to put it simply, made it 100% sure the troupe can carry on into another fete and carnival season! It is surprising how much has to be put in to provide these kinds of activities for the local children. Laurie has a strong bond and long history with Ilminster and has always supported as many as he can whenever he can. He is the definition of local hero!”


The store sponsors Ilminster Diamonds Majorettes