By Helen Webb, Chief People and Services Officer
It’s wonderful to have received the news that three Co-op Colleagues have been recognised in the Queen’s new year honours. I want to congratulate Jo Whitfield CBE, Nick Speight MBE and Joanne Gates BEM for their awards.
Each of our business units have been essential in keeping the country running this year and it’s great that the efforts of several colleagues have been recognised at this highest level. I’ve included some words on each of the awards below along with the reaction from the colleagues who received them.
Jo Whitfield CBE – CEO of Co-op Food
Jo has led our Food businesses through some of the most uncertain times in our history. Through Jo’s leadership we continued to feed the nation, no matter what coronavirus threw at us. We kept the supply chain moving and shops open for business, all whilst keeping colleagues and communities safe with PPE, screens and new ways of working. She didn’t stop there though and has gone above and beyond to make sure everyone has a meal. Her work in partnership with Fareshare and co-operation with Marcus Rashford on his free Schools meals campaign has helped some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“I was genuinely surprised when I was contacted by the Prime Minister’s office. It is a great honour, and in reality is a valuable recognition for all my colleagues at the Co-op who have gone above and beyond to help feed the nation and support communities during the coronavirus pandemic. They have worked tirelessly to keep shops open and stocked and also help food banks at a time of need.”
Nick Speight MBE – Head of Hire to Retire
Nick’s led the Hire to Retire team at a time when we were all unsure of what was coming next, or how we would need to react. Colleague safety and wellbeing has been Nick’s number one priority and along with his team, he continues to support us all. From recruiting extra colleagues when we need them, to being on hand for line managers and colleagues navigating new things like ‘furlough’ or ‘shielding’, Nick’s advice and support has been invaluable in keeping us and all our business units going this year.
“I am completely delighted to receive this honour in recognition of the work myself and our team have undertaken to keep our Co-op colleagues safe and supported whilst continuing to serve the community this year. The team rose to the unprecedented challenges Covid19 presented, going above and beyond to make people decisions in a truly Co-op way, to keep our food stores feeding the nation and our funeral care homes supporting those in their time of need. I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved”
Joanne Gates – BEM, Team Manager – Romford
Joanne’s award was for the incredible role she has played in putting shop worker safety on the agenda of our government. She has been a true advocate of our Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign and has promoted this within her community and beyond. She also kept two stores running throughout the coronavirus crisis, meaning the communities she serves were kept fed and watered no matter what. Joanne’s a true advocate of co-operation with a real community spirit.
“Today is a very proud day for me, my colleagues and my family. Working at Co-op is about so much more than selling groceries. Our stores are real community hubs and I do take my role as a member of the local community very seriously. It’s been a particularly challenging year for us all but nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfilment than knowing I’ve helped to make a positive difference to the lives of people living in the area.”
I’m sure you’ll all join me in congratulating these colleagues for these remarkable achievements.
Well done to you all!