Community champion Jarrow shopkeeper Nico Ali delivers 3,240 bottles of Ribena and 3,000 pens to help hospital staff and frontline workers

An award-winning Jarrow shopkeeper has been dishing out free bottled drinks to front-line workers to show appreciation for their efforts.

Nico Ali has run the Premier shop in Edinburgh Road on the town’s Scotch Estate alongside his brother Taz for 30 years.

The Lucozade Ribena Suntory Company had 270 cases, 3,240 bottles, of sparkling Ribena to share round South Tyneside as a token of gratitude for the contribution of frontline workers during the pandemic.

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Having heard of the efforts of Nico to support his local community, the company realised he was the best person to decide where the bottles should go. Nico went further than that and distributed them himself to hospital staff, fire fighters and paramedics.

Nico Ali delivering drinks to ambulance to show appreciation for their efforts.

He said: “It was a lovely gesture from Ribena, although it’s taken me a few days to go round giving out all the bottles.

“We wanted to thank front line workers for everything they’ve been doing for us. They’re doing a bigger job than I am. You can’t really thank them enough, so this is just a gesture to show our appreciation.”

Nico was recently given the Spirit of the Community Award at the 31st Asian Trader Awards during a virtual ceremony, in recognition of his massive contributions to the area which have seen him helping vulnerable and hard up people, particularly during lockdowns.

In a separate initiative Nico, together with Jarrow author Paul Perry, supplied 3,000 pens to South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals.

Nico Ali delivering drinks to fire fighters to show appreciation.

Nico added: “Apparently pens are like gold dust in hospitals at the moment. Obviously they have computers and all the technology, but they still need pens.”

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Nico Ali, left and Jarrow author Paul Perry, right, have also donated 3,000 much needed pens to local hospitals.