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British Empire Medal for owner of Spotty Bag Shop in Banff

By Kyle Ritchie

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A Banff businessman has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Year Honours list for the work he has done to support the community through the coronavirus pandemic.

Des Cheyne (47) owner of the town's Spotty Bag Shop receives the accolade for the wealth of assistance he has provided the area during the Covid-19 response.

Mr Cheyne said he was shocked when he found out he was to get the British Empire Medal and the help provided to the community would have been impossible without the support of his staff.

Banff's Des Cheyne – owner of the town's Spotty Bag Shop – has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Banff's Des Cheyne – owner of the town's Spotty Bag Shop – has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

He added: "I was gobsmacked when I heard I was to receive it, I was left speechless.

"It is great to be recognised but that was never intention. We wanted to help people throughout the community that have supported us over the years.

"The reason for doing it was we have always been blessed with the support of the local community and from people further afield.

"The staff also recognised that and without them we would not have been able to pull it together.

"We've always been supportive of different charities and initiatives and will continue to do so.

"For the past year we felt that because of the challenges people were facing we would throw our efforts into supporting that, and into this coming year as well with the way things are going."

The British Empire Medal is awarded for service to the local community.

During the coronavirus crisis Mr Cheyne has provided free goods to charitable organisations, maintained critical supplies and found imaginative ways to make essential items available to vulnerable people.

Responding to the need for widespread home schooling, in March this year he worked with Banff Academy staff to supply bags of stationery for families with limited resources.

He provided a similar service for parents of local primary school children through Macduff Parish Church.

His generosity extended to donations to the local food banks and assembling packs of essential hygiene items for the elderly.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis he has worked to maintain supplies of essential products such as hand sanitiser, disposable gloves and toilet rolls.

To assist customers shopping, the innovative approach to the store layout meant these were available in a place that ensured the vulnerable spent only a minimum time in a public place.

During the first phase of the crisis, he introduced rationing of such items to ensure everybody was able to get.

He also introduced a free delivery service to support those who were shielding.

He added: "We were averaging 80 to 100 deliveries a day and on top of that we were trying to find supplies to replenish stock levels for the products that people needed.

"We distributed nearly 1100 coronavirus kits, which provided essential items to people who needed them.

"The community rallied together and there were also other businesses and individuals that helped throughout as well. They all contributed massively to the local community."

Mr Cheyne has built up the shop into a business which attracts customers from a wide area and makes a significant contribution to the local economy.

The business provides employment for a large cohort of staff in the area.

He has won awards for the employment of staff with learning difficulties, as well as winning the Bespoke Retailer of the Year at the Scottish Independent Retail Awards and the Best Family Retailer/Shop at the Aberdeenshire Raring2Go awards.

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