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BEM presentation for north-east businessman Des Cheyne

By Lorna Thompson

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A BANFF businessman has been presented with his British Empire Medal (BEM) for efforts to support locals through the coronavirus pandemic.

Des Cheyne (47), owner of the town's Spotty Bag Shop, was announced as a recipient of the medal in the Queen's New Year Honours List 2020.

The official announcement was delayed until October last year to include individuals who had made a contribution to the pandemic response.

Mr Cheyne was finally presented with his BEM on Wednesday, September 22, by the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Andrew Simpson.

During the crisis Mr Cheyne provided free goods to charitable organisations, maintained critical supplies and made essential items available to vulnerable people.

He worked alongside Banff Academy to supply stationery for families with limited resources. He provided a similar service for parents of local primary school children through Macduff Parish Church.

His business made donations to the local food banks and assembled free packs of essential hygiene items for the elderly.

During the first phase of the crisis, he introduced rationing of essential items and introduced a free delivery service to support those who were shielding.

Des Cheyne BEM, owner of Banff's Spotty Bag Shop, receives his medal.
Des Cheyne BEM, owner of Banff's Spotty Bag Shop, receives his medal.
Des Cheyne BEM with Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson.
Des Cheyne BEM with Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson.

Mr Simpson said: "Des has built up The Spotty bag Shop to be a local landmark that attracts countless people to Banff.

"During the pandemic his hard work and dedication to his customers meant that he was able to continue supplying many essential items that were in short supply in other communities.

"The introduction of free home deliveries was valued by many who were shielding.

"However, the success of The Spotty Bag shop has allowed Des to support countless good causes within the locality. Not just throughout the pandemic, but his commitment to the area has made a significant difference to the community."

During the presentation, Mr Simpson praised Mr Cheyne for his hands-on service to the community, adding: "You were in a position to help and you did."

He said Mr Cheyne had shown concern for his customers as people, spending time with individuals while out on home deliveries, and had put in extra hours with no days off for months.

He thanked Mr Cheyne's staff "who were amazing working under pressure, changing working habits and helping customers", adding: "But that is what leadership is about. Inspiring others, giving people opportunities, encouraging others with the same attitude that you have to serve customers."

Mr Cheyne said afterwards: "I was overwhelmed by it all.

"None of this would have been achievable of it hadn't been for the commitment, loyalty and hard work of our staff. They deserve the praise.

"Equally, our loyalty shown by our customers too was significant. It was a joint effort."

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