It’s another New Year and a time for celebration. We hope you all enjoyed a little bit of a break over the Christmas holidays and you’re feeling refreshed.
For us, it was just as busy as ever, but as we reflect on another successful year, it’s certainly not been without lots of exciting changes – and challenges!
As ever, we would like to thank all our customers, colleagues, suppliers and community partners for all their support in 2023 – we very much look forward to seeing what 2024 has in store for you all!
Here’s a few highlights from us.
The big changeover!
Earlier this year we were very sad to see Richard and Karen Dance take a step back from the business after more than 30 years. But, we hear that they are very much enjoying the quieter life!
They are still frequent visitors to our Brockenhurst store and do a number of things to support the community. We’d again like to express our thanks and appreciation to Richard and Karen – and we wish them all the very best.
With Richard and Karen stepping back, our six shops became part of the Southern Co-op as they celebrated their 150th anniversary year.
Back then, 30 people attended a public meeting and unanimously agreed to pay one shilling to establish a local Co-operative. Back then, the Co-Operative Society was formed by dockyard workers to tackle exploitation and inequality, and 5 months later, the Portsea Island Mutual Co-operative Society’s first shop opened in Charles Street on 9 May 1873.
There was recently a special edition of the Portsmouth News, which included a pull-out section on Southern Co-op’s beginnings as part of its 150th birthday in May – you can read it here.
Want to join us? If you’re looking for a new role and you’re interested in becoming part of our Welcome store team you can read more here.
Support for Ukraine
In April, Welcome stores teamed up with New Forest for Ukraine to donate 300 disposable barbeques that were removed from our shelves two summers ago.
Disposable barbeques are a huge risk of causing wildfires. They are devastating for ground nesting birds and other animals, and the impact is felt for years. Plus, climate change also means hotter, drier periods are inevitable, and the risk of starting a deadly fire by taking a barbecue out into the woods increases.
While they were no good to us, New Forest for Ukraine said they could make use of them, and gave them to reservists on the front line in Poland and Ukraine who used them to heat their food for daily essential cooking.
You can read more about the donation here.
New Forest for Ukraine was set up to help the war efforts in Ukraine and has since filled 100 trucks with aid, including 3,000 trauma kits, 150 generators and over 10,000 bandages.
Here’s a photo of us handing over the final batch!
Solent Mind support – and thank you
We’ve been working in partnership with Solent Mind for a few years now and they do some incredible work providing mental health support across the region.
Not only were we thrilled to announce our partnership with them for another year, in August we handed over a cheque for £3,699.71 to help fund some of their vital services.
What’s more, this year we rolled out a partnership with Solent Mind that gives all our colleagues access to mental wellness kits, so that staff can recognise symptoms of poor mental health and how they can access help if they need it.
Being well physically and mentally is so important and as you can imagine at this time of year, keeping well can feel like a tricky task sometimes.
If you need to talk to someone, you can head to the Solent Mind website to find out more about the services available in your community.
Thank you Solent Mind for everything you do, it’s a pleasure to partner with you.
As an eco-conscious business, we were absolutely thrilled that our Brockenhurst store was recognised with “Plastic Free Community” status back in June.
As an initiative of Greener Brockenhurst, the campaign started last year after the idea was put forward at a community meeting and taken forward as a way of encouraging villagers, community groups and businesses to change habits.
It is a great achievement for the village and illustrates that there is a want and a wish to do more to reduce the amount of plastic used given the right encouragement.
Bringing Christmas cheer to Brockenhurst!
While on the topic of Brockenhurst, we thought we’d share a few pics from the fantastically festive Brockenhurst Christmas Fun Evening, an annual tradition that took place this year on Friday 1st December on Brookley Road.
Welcome Stores has had a long association with the event which was jam-packed with local acts like the Brassed Toffs Band, Magic Jack the magician and the Friday Girls, as well as stalls selling a variety of treats on offer from local businesses, activites and fairground rides.
It was great fun watching everyone get into the Christmas spirit as our colleagues set up a stall outside our shop front in Brockenhurst and handed out free mulled wine and mince pies to residents and visitors who came to enjoy all the fun of the festive fayre – and we raised an amazing £200 for our chosen charity, Solent Mind, in the process.
We also teamed up with Plastic Free Brockenhurst to offer a few things for their raffle prize – another way we wanted to collaborate with such an important organisation following Brockenhurst’s plastic-free status!
We’re already looking forward to getting involved again next year – we hope to see you all there!
Here are some of our favourite pictures from the day.
More shout-outs and thank yous
We must also give a special mention to our wonderful suppliers who create some fantastic products all made locally.
Wishing you all a very prosperous New Year – and watch this space for more exciting news coming your way in 2024!