Retired teacher supports Derbyshire Central England Co-op to serve community during crisis

A retired teacher who has been a community hero during the coronavirus outbreak by volunteering at his local Central England Co-op food store said it has been an ‘absolute pleasure’ supporting villagers to access food and essentials.

Ollie Pardo has been providing vital help to the retailer’s community food store in Hasland, Chesterfield over the past six weeks.

The 68-year-old, from nearby Spital, is an active Central England Co-op Member, serving on the Society’s Northern Member and Community Council (MCC) supporting with community activities and educational workshops in schools.

As food stores across the area began to experience unprecedented demand as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak began to hit, Ollie heeded a call for volunteers to provide support and hasn’t looked back since.

He said: “I have really enjoyed it. I have been going into the store on the mornings on delivery days to help take the pressure off the team by helping manage the queue, clean down the trolleys and baskets and keep things ticking over so they can focus on getting stock out.

“I wanted to do something to help out. I am an active MCC member and enjoy supporting the community where I can through that role so when the request went out for volunteers I knew I wanted to support.

“The store is just up the road from me and I know the team quite well as well, so it has been really nice to help them out. We have a good laugh and there is a great atmosphere within the team.

“I’ve not worked in retail before, but I have always enjoyed working with people; in my career I worked with children with special needs and their families and through my MCC role I have worked in schools and supported some of our member groups such as the Chesterfield Choral Society, Chesterfield Painting Group and Chesterfield Afternoon Group, for which I arrange the talks.

“I have always liked helping people and being around people, so I have enjoyed chatting to customers and seeing the same faces coming in.”

Ollie said the community in Hasland have been really supportive to both himself and the team and complied well with the social distancing guidelines that have been in place.

He said: “People have been really helpful, behaved well and treated colleagues with respect. When I have been chatting to people coming in they have said how they really like shopping there and feel very safe and comfortable which is testament to the team.”

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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 with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.

Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish. 

Our 7,900 colleagues serving our Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 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. 

We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.

We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.

Visit for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

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