Jarrow shopkeeper wins national award for his kind-hearted efforts through the covid pandemic

A shopkeeper and community champion has had his efforts through the pandemic recognised at a prestigious national awards ceremony.

Nico Ali, who runs the Premier shop in Edinburgh Road on Jarrow’s Scotch Estate, was given the Spirit of the Community Award at the 31st Asian Trader Awards during a virtual ceremony.

The shopkeeper, who has run the business with brother Taz Ali for 30 years, sprung into action after lockdown was imposed in March 2020, when he delivered free bread and milk to vulnerable residents on the estate.

Nico Ali was suitably dressed for the virtual awards ceremony.

The shop also donated hundreds pallets of bottled water to NHS workers at South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals when Covid first kicked in and, after finding out that Hebburn Helps food bank was running low on stock, Nico turned up there with crates of cereal, custard and tinned fruit.

But the list of good deeds is longer than that and in May 2020 Nico and Taz appeared on the Channel 4 documentary Britain’s Unsung Heroes.

At the ceremony, hosted by impressionist Rory Bremner, Asian Trader described Nico as: “A true unsung hero and the bedrock of his local community.

“He provided food parcels and hampers to hospital staff, supplied food banks and even drove hundreds of miles to ensure his customers could get essential supplies of pasta, hand sanitiser and toilet rolls when there were shortages.

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Award winner Nico Ali has donated thousands of essential items to Jarrow residents during the pandemic.

“He even delivered birthday cakes and signed football shirts for the local children.”

Nico said: “When I got the award I felt emotional because of all the effort we’ve put in during the pandemic. It’s still going on. I feel like the award is for the community and all the team who have worked with me during this time. Without them we couldn’t have done all this.

“Lots of people have been a big help to us – and I certainly couldn’t have done it without Taz.

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“Thank you for supporting the shop. It’s been a tough time.”

Nico Ali has also written a book about his lockdown experiences.

Nico was a joint winner of the Spirit of the Community Award, along with Jawad Javed of Stenhousemuir in Scotland.

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