A pub owner in Northampton has won O2’s Everyday Heroes competition – a celebration of the selfless people who helped their communities during the pandemic.
Suzy Keeping, 25, was nominated by anonymous members of the public who were in awe of her incredible efforts in delivering food and essentials to vulnerable people and volunteering on an NHS COVID ward.
The owner of the Old White Hart Inn in Far Cotton was forced to close down her pub when lockdown was enforced.
“Supermarket shelves were empty and people were struggling to get hold of basic products like fruit, veg and hand sanitiser,” she said.
“With my day job on hold, I thought about what I could do, so I started up a community support group with four other ladies. We used the White Hart pub as a support network for people to get help and started up a food delivery service for locals who couldn’t get the things they needed, or those who were housebound.
“We ordered stuff through wholesalers, boxed it up and delivered it out to the local community in Northampton and even out to Wellingborough, delivering boxes free of charge for whoever needed it.”
As the situation improved and supermarkets restocked, Suzy continued donating to the food bank she’d help to set up, but also began working as a volunteer for the NHS.
“I started at the end of April and went straight onto a COVID ward,” she said. “I was more than happy to do it. It was stressful, but I saw this as our generation’s war. I couldn’t just do nothing and sit at home, I wanted to do as much as I possibly could.
“It started with things like doing laundry, feeding and washing patients, but it wasn’t long before I found myself really in at the deep end. I was there with many sufferers when they had their last moments. They weren’t able to have their loved ones around them, so I lay by their bedside with them so they were not alone. That was a real eye opener and something I will never forget.”
O2’s Everyday Heroes initiative was set up to help businesses during what’s been an incredibly difficult time.
Allie Lawson, Head of SMB Brand & Marcomms from O2 Business and judge, said: “Suzy’s win is incredibly deserving, and we were inspired by her positive, can-do attitude. Nothing was going to get in her way when it came to helping the local community, whether it was getting food to vulnerable people or ensuring those suffering most from the virus spent their last moments in the company of a friendly face.
“Even though Suzy’s business may have suffered during lockdown, she refused to give up, and instead channelled her efforts into helping those in need.”
By winning the Everyday Heroes competition, Suzy wins £1,000 and a top of the range device from O2.
Suzy said she was delighted to win: “I was really surprised and humbled to win O2’s Everyday Heroes award. I wasn’t a key worker, I wasn’t doing this every day, I was simply just trying to do my bit and help others. It’s an incredibly nice gesture that someone recognised me.
“Mobile played a pivotal role and meant we were on call 24/7 and there were five or six of us on a WhatsApp group answering calls and messages. It meant that we were contactable straight away.
“Whether it was phone calls or FaceTime, or simply a text message to keep families updated, it was so important in bringing families closer to their loved ones who weren’t able to be there in person.”
Suzy believes that while lockdown has been tough, it’s had a positive impact on community spirit in Northampton.
“It made it ok for people to ask for help,” she said. “I have developed relationships with some incredible people along the way and received lovely letters.
“As we slowly move out of lockdown, I now need to re-focus my attention to running my pubs, but I will always be keen to volunteer and I have even been asked to train new volunteers for the NHS, which is something I can’t wait to do.”
To learn more about becoming an O2 Business, visit http://www.o2.co.uk/business.
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Notes to Editors
Suzy was chosen from a selection of the best entries by a panel including independent judge Gavin Ellis, Director of the charity Hubbub, and three judges from O2: Allie Lawson, Head of SMB Brand & Marcomms; Nicola Green, Corporate Affairs Director; and Tracey Herald, Head of Partnerships and Social Impact.