16 September, 2019

Embracing the community spirit

A few months ago, Lee, a Section Manager at our Sheffield Meadowhall store, switched on ‘BBC Breakfast’. A story of local interest came on, about an unsung hero. Lee found it humbling but also inspiring. And he didn’t forget what he’d heard and watched.

You might have seen it. It was about Tony Foulds, now 82. In 1944, Tony and his friends were playing in a Sheffield park when an aircraft carrying American airmen crashed nearby. It later emerged that the pilot had been planning to land safely in the park but diverted to avoid the children – with tragic results. Tony learned of that, and every day since has quietly tended a local memorial for the airmen.

We’ve always encouraged our people to take an interest in their communities. Social cohesion and community inclusion are important to us. David Sieff, a member of the M&S founding family, once said: “Healthy high streets need healthy backstreets”.

So when Lee heard from his wife, Kirsty, that Tony was to be honoured for his achievements at a special occasion at the Grosvenor House in London, he wanted to know if he could do anything to help.

And there was. Tony had never owned a suit – and had never wanted one! But he needed to look the part for his visit to Grosvenor House. Lee spoke to his Store Manager, Matthew, and they agreed to kit out Tony, and his friend who was accompanying him to London, with everything they needed for the ceremony.

So Tony and his friend both headed off in a smart new suit, shirt, tie, tiepin and lightweight jumper. Lee also organised for the two of them to have lunch in the M&S Café, compliments of the store.

Lee recognises that the real hero of the story is Tony, and humbly deflects any praise onto him. I just did what I felt was the right thing to do,” was all he would say.

Tony is the hero of the story. But well done, Lee.

Inside M&S