Colleagues at our Gillingham Pier store were really upset when they heard that thieves had stolen 72-year-old Rosemary Wimble’s collection of 21 Asda gnomes from her front garden.
The gnomes were a great attraction in the local area and Rosemary felt sorry for all the children who regularly came round to see them.
Our colleagues invited her into the store this week – and she was delighted when they surprised her by handing over four giant gnomes to start a new collection.
She had a huge grin and a tear in her eye when she realised the new gnomes were for her.
She said: “I’m so delighted and surprised at what the people at Asda have done for me. It’s lovely and I’m very thankful to them.”
Rosemary – regarded by her neighbours as “the life and soul of the street” – had built her gnome collection over several years as people bought them from Asda for her as presents.
After they were stole on 12th June, her daughter Nicola posted on Facebook to say her mum was “absolutely heartbroken”. She asked Medway people to keep their eyes peeled, saying: “Twenty-one 3ft gnomes are hard to hide.”
Kent Police are investigating but, two weeks on, there’s still no sign of the stolen gnomes.
Tiffany Rowlett, who lives on the same street as Rosemary and works on the Asda customer service desk, spotted Nicola’s Facebook appeal and told her colleagues about it.
They were shocked and determined to do something – and the store’s community champion Rosie Wray managed to find a complete family of gnomes so Rosemary could start a new collection.
Rosemary’s granddaughters Jessica and Caitlin told their grandma they were taking her to the store for lunch – only for Tiffany and Rosie to surprise her with the gnome family.
Jessica, who’s 22, said: “She was so happy when she saw the gnomes – she had a big smile on her face.”
Rosemary, who's a widow and has two children and five grandchildren, said: "I’ve been collecting gnomes for several years. They make me smile and they’re a great attraction as I keep them in my front garden.
“Local kids would walk the long way round to see them and even the local grannies stop and have a look at them!
“The first I knew something had happened to them was when my neighbour knocked on my door and said they’d seen one of my gnomes broken on the corner of the street. Maybe they dropped it as they went away.
“It was a real shame. I was most upset for the children who enjoy coming round to look at them.”
Tiffany said: "Rosemary is such a lovely lady – she’s lived on the street for 50 years and knows everybody. She’s the life and soul of the street really. She loves all the kids coming round to look at them.
“The gnomes fade over time in the sun so my two kids go round and help her repaint them.
“She had a huge grin and a tear in her eye when she realised the new gnomes were for her.”
Garden gnomes were going out of fashion until Gnorman and the growing family of giant Asda gnomes started attracting a huge following in the last few years. They’ve made an impact in the community too – and colleagues at our Aberdeen Beach store recently teamed up to delight a group of nursery school children with a special gnome delivery.