Nico Ali and his brother Taz have run Edinburgh Road’s Premier Shop on Jarrow’s Scotch Estate for more than 30 years, and like to give something back to the community they serve.
Nine hundred copies of The Sentimental Journey have been printed and most of them have already been sold.
It follows the success in 2020 of The Extra Mile, which looked back at Nico’s experiences of the first lockdown, with the stories of some of those who have been most touched by his kindness.
The follow up is a poignant look at friends and customers who have died since covid first shut down the country in March 2020. It was typed by Anne Ahmed and edited by local historian Paul Perry.
Nico and Taz’s list of charitable deeds is too long to publish in full, but during lockdown they handed out bread, bottles of water and other essential supplies to those who most needed it.
In May he was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace to recognise his community work. The new book has also been given the backing of Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe, who Nico met at the club’s training ground.
Nico is happy to remember his old friends and gave examples which have more detail in the book.
He said: “There’s a nurse from the hospital in the book from when I was delivering goods there. She passed away.
“Another friend was taken into South Tyneside Hospital and I made him a hamper. He recovered but then went back. His friend fell ill as well, so they were both in hospital. He made it back home; she passed away in the hospital, and then he passed away three months later.
“These were my good friends. I used to go and see them and help them out. Eddie Howe said it was an emotional, brilliant journey.”
Copies of The Sentimental Journey are still available from the shop at £4 each with proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support.