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Why community champion Gill from Barrow is known as 'Mrs Asda'

Community champion Gill Gerrish from our Barrow store is affectionately known as "Mrs Asda" by the local charities, schools, groups and good causes that she's helped in the ten years since our community programme started.

May 13, 2022 02:52pm
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Asda Barrow community champion Gill Gerrish celebrates 10 years of the Asda community programme

Gill, who's worked at the store for 32 years, is so passionate about her role and is proud of the difference she has made in her community over the past decade – and continues to make today.

She says: "Locally I am known as Mrs Asda and I receive praise for the good that Asda does within the community. The instant impact my role brings from being a volunteer and allowing activities to take place to seeing a charity or group offer a new activity because of being able to purchase new equipment from an Asda Foundation grant is so gratifying to me and appreciated by the local community."

Gill started working for Asda in May 1990, initially on checkouts, before moving onto becoming a checkout runner and trainer.

She said: "Before taking on the role of community champion I had always taken part in various fundraising activities for individuals to groups and charities in our local community and taken part in in store fundraising activities ranging from the Keswick to Barrow Walk, which is 40 miles plus a little more and, as we live on the coast, New Year's Day dips for local community and town sports clubs.

"When the trial period for community champions had finished and subsequently rolled out across all stores the opportunity to combine my love for supporting the community within a work role became available as the events colleague was seeking to retire."

Her first memory of the role was supporting Green Spaces in the local community.

She said: "An awful lot of tombolas were set up to help raise the target. Luckily this is a fundraiser that the customers at Barrow love to take part in. When I first went out to volunteer in our local community, I contacted a few of the local charities that were close to my heart – Age UK, Alzheimers and the British Heart Foundation – and our local blind society.

"I have continually worked alongside Age UK, although my volunteering role has adapted to their need. So as well as donating for various fundraisers they have held, I've been helping them apply and successfully receive Asda Foundation Grants for equipment for their different groups, and last year to fund a whole day's event for the older generation in our local community.

"This has grown from initially supporting a cooking group with nutritional information to eventually holding a cooking class for vulnerable elderly gentlemen. This again changed when the pandemic hit and all groups were put on hold, but I continued to support them with the new additional grants that the Asda Foundation made available to those who were supporting those isolating.

"I became a telephone befriender to the clients that used to be in my cooking group and, as restrictions eased, I continued to support them in that way. Even now that we have been allowed to resume physical contact I continue to be on the end of the phone for a chat. The same has applied for our local Blind Society, which is now rebranded as Vision Support Barrow & District."

Last year Gill received a Making A Difference Award by Age UK Barrow & District for all the good work that she does in the local area.

Over the years Gill has helped with two large amounts of funding from the Asda Foundation. The first, for £8,000, was for a working farm where on-hand learning was delivered for children and young people who for one reason or another were not in mainstream education. The second, for £10,000, was to a local community hall for modifying areas and decoration so that they could open up to more varied groups and community activities.

She said: "The grants that the Asda Foundation have given have really make a difference to so many of our local community."

Before the pandemic, Gill used to arrange a Christmas party for residents of local care homes. She said: "The pleasure those residents experienced during these events was evident in their smiles and comments. Being able to support these events is certainly a highlight of my role so far!"

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