Caroline's so proud to have been helping her local community for the last ten years
Our Charlton store's community champion Caroline Pettican says she's proud to have made "lots of little differences" to the dozens of local groups, schools, charities and good causes she's helped over the last decade since Asda's community programme started.
Caroline has helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for good causes, as well as helping groups secure grants from Asda's charity, the Asda Foundation.
She was one of our first ever community champions back in 2012 – and says she still feels as passionate today about supporting the local community as she did when she first started.
"I was actually the community colleague before the community programme started," said Caroline. "I was the store's events co-ordinator before it turned into the role of community colleague and I am still here doing the role so I'm sure that tells you how much I enjoy my job!
"One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the fun aspect of the job, so no matter what event I run or which event I attend I always have fun.
"The first set of groups I linked myself to were schools and I still work with those same schools now. I have seen the children from when they first started to when they left and have moved onto secondary school."
Caroline has supported many different local groups and charities over the years.
She said: "Being Asda Charlton's community champion is fantastic. I feel honoured and privileged to have worked with and met some of the people I have. This job has taught me so much about different aspects of the community – and I look forward to continuing to help as much as I can.
"I would say I haven't made a massive difference to one particular thing but I have made lots of little differences to all the people, charities, groups that I come in contact with.
"The groups I work with are very grateful and appreciate anything and everything that I do for them. From donating a few packs of biscuits to helping them apply for an Asda Foundation grant, they appreciate it all.
"I genuinely don't think the local groups I work with just want what they can get from me, but that we really are one big community."
A number of groups and local figures have been saying thank you to Caroline, her colleagues at our Charlton store and to the Asda Foundation for their support over the past decade.
Councillor John Fahy said: "I can say, without hesitation, that the community support by Asda in Greenwich is overwhelming and a credit to the company for all its efforts. The enormous challenges faced during the pandemic and beyond has shone a light on your generosity and the untiring efforts of your community support is visible across the borough is enormous; nothing is too much trouble. So many people have been supported during these challenging times. Thank you."
Caroline recently helped Charlton Park Riding For the Disabled secure an Asda Foundation grant for specialist saddles.
Carol Kendall, who's trustee, chief coach, fundraiser and volunteer, said: "I want to let everyone know how we at Charlton Park Riding For The Disabled feel about the wonderful monetary contribution we received and also the present of tea/coffee biscuits which is the way we pay our amazing volunteers. We feel lucky and appreciated and Caroline from Asda Charlton has visited us with lots of help and advice. Thank you Asda, not just from Charlton Park RDA, but from all our riders and supporters and the community as a whole."
Joanne from Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park said: "We have loved working with Caroline at Charlton Asda over the past few years! As well as supporting our educational work through the Asda Green Token Giving scheme, Caroline has been roped into making slime, pond dipping, nature themed art activities and bug hunting, despite not being a huge fan of creepy crawlies (though we hope we've changed her mind!). She has also supported our Winter Fayres, making and decorating woven willow wreathes with local families. Caroline is a great community champion, always helpful and cheerful working alongside our visiting families and children, and we hope we will be able to carry on the good work going forward – we have exciting plans for a new visitor centre and Caroline will definitely be on the guest list for the grand opening! Happy 10th birthday to the community programme – we are celebrating our 20th year of opening this year so it's a double celebration!"
Janet Ley, group lead and founder at Reflections Greenwich, a charity supporting people with dementia, said:"We were delighted to be put in touch with Caroline, our local Asda community champion. Caroline takes an interest in what we do and has made suggestions on how her role can support us. She has supplied items such as drinks and biscuits plus informed us how we could apply for funds for a specific event. As a small charity her involvement is invaluable and we are very grateful."
Shauna Mulligan, director at The Irish Centre in Bexleyheath, said: "Without the wonderful support of the community colleague from Asda, our community, services and our fundraising efforts would be completely at a loss. Our community colleague goes above and beyond, and helps to support our community in more ways than one. Our management team get support and help with fundraising opportunities, our staff get the support of positive, hands on volunteering and our community get the warm welcome from an Asda employee at the events that mean so much to them. Without the support from Asda’s community colleagues our services would be far less enjoyable. We are eternally grateful to them for their continue support and the support of Asda."
And Kathy Byfield, operations manager at Greenwich Foodbank, said: "Having Community Champions has been really valuable to us here at Greenwich Foodbank. This connection with Asda has meant that we can go directly to Caroline to discuss the type of support we need and share ideas of what can be achieved with a trusted partner. Caroline has enabled Greenwich Foodbank to retain a presence in the Store, she is very professional and friendly and has a 'can do' attitude and we look forward to working with her on future initiatives."
Caroline says one of her most striking memories is of a time when she supported the Chartwell Trust at an event at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital.
She said: "I was supporting the work by a charity called the Chartwell Trust who support the Children's Cancer Ward at my local hospital. I was invited to a coffee morning on the ward – an opportunity for patients and relatives to get together. I was actually honoured to have been asked before I even got there. so I donated cakes and treats and off I went. When I was there I was touched by meeting some of the patients and relatives and one particular little boy whose nan I was talking to will stay with me forever.
"I started talking generally to his nan and she was the one who introduced him to me. He was three years old and was fighting cancer. He had lost a lot of his hair due to treatment and was a very poorly little boy. Her words of 'We don't know if he is even going to make the next year' choked me. I looked at his little face, he was so beautiful. I often wondered about him and how he was and more recently when I did some work with the Chartwell Trust again I was so pleased to hear he was OK and had made a full recovery. I think about him most days and often wonder what he is up to."
Caroline says the support of colleagues at her store, who often get behind fundraising and awareness-building events for things like our Tickled Pink breast cancer charity campaign, BBC Children in Need, and support for Ukrainian refugees, means the world to her.
She said: "We've had so many events over the years involving colleagues dressing up, baking cakes, even singing to a TikTok video. Colleagues have always enjoyed. Each time I do something, different colleagues join in with the same ones who always get involved, so I like to think over the years all colleagues have got involved one way or another.
"I am hoping to be able to celebrate our 10-year anniversary by holding a social event that maybe the people I have worked with past and present could attend, not just to celebrate our community but to meet each other and then maybe new relationships could be formed and more support and help can be given.
"My hopes for the future are that we can carry on giving the much-needed support that we do. From really small charities to larger ones they all need whatever help we can offer. From a few packs of biscuits to a sum of money from a grant, it all helps our local community and is so appreciated."