A huge well done to our Gosport store's much-loved community champion Rachel Webber, who's been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours.
Rachel's been honoured by the Queen in recognition for her work helping the local community during the pandemic – and says she's "totally overwhelmed" by the award.
She said: "I got a phone call from Stuart our store manager when I was at home and he said 'Are you sitting down?' and then he said 'You've won an award'. When he told me what it was I said 'Shut up Stuart, what do you really want? I really didn't believe him – I was shocked."
Although honoured to receive the award, Rachel, who's been community champion at the store for seven years, says she's just doing the job she loves.
She said: "I like being able to help other people and I like knowing that I've made a difference and hopefully I inspire others, especially the younger generation, to do that too.
“When the pandemic hit, I had to shield with my vulnerable daughter, but I knew my local community needed me too. I’ve tried to bring the community together by holding virtual sessions with over 40 local groups to keep everybody talking and upbeat during the pandemic. I’m really proud that I was able to play my part – whether that was providing comfort on the telephone to the most vulnerable, or organising care packages for our frontline and care workers.
“I have an amazing family who always support me with whatever venture I’m throwing myself into. I really believe in our community and I’m always in awe of how many people give their time to help others. I'm very lucky that my job allows me to do something that I’m really passionate about. I’m just truly overwhelmed
"My family are really proud of me. We've had a really rough year as a family so getting this award was really great. It means that all the hard work has paid off.
"But although It's me getting the award, I don't feel that it's just for me, it's for everyone else who's helped me especially my family and Heidi the community champion from our Fareham store as we're a great team.”