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Joel Dommett presents national award to Newbury firm that stepped up during Covid crisis

The owners of a kitchen makeover company have won a national community award after they collected more than 45,000 meals for West Berks Foodbank.

Adrian and Lesley Wallace, from Dream Doors Basingstoke and Newbury, were named Community Champion of the Year at the kbbreview Retail and Design Awards, held at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral and hosted by Joel Dommett.

The pair transformed their kitchen showroom into a socially-distanced facility for people to donate food to the West Berks Foodbank after the UK was plunged into a national lockdown in March 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lesley and Adrian Wallace, centre, collect their award from host Joel Dommett and Claire Eagling from award sponsor Cosentino
Lesley and Adrian Wallace, centre, collect their award from host Joel Dommett and Claire Eagling from award sponsor Cosentino

They became the catalyst for the community, encouraging and galvanising people of all ages to come together for their charitable movement ‘Foodbank on your doorstep’.

Almost instantly, their showroom was filling up with donations from people who wanted to help during the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Mrs Wallace said: “At the start of the pandemic, there were so many people who wanted to do something to help – this was a way to contribute.

Dream Doors helped collect meals for West Berkshire Foodbank
Dream Doors helped collect meals for West Berkshire Foodbank

"Within 11 days, we had donated a total of 1,847 items, including tins of food, 30kg of sugar, jars of coffee and over 600 nappies.

“We found people were going to the local shop and filling their cars with items needed by the foodbank.”

Donations continued to flood in at the showroom, located on Chapel Street in Thatcham, and by the end of April 2020, 40 volunteers had signed up to help, covering 250 streets across the region.

“People of all ages got involved,” said Mrs Wallace. “Most were on furlough. We’ve had some parents get involved in engaging their young children in volunteering – and others to support their teenagers getting involved as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award.

“One of our volunteers is retired and monitors the emails to manage collection requests as they come in – coordinating who collects which donations from which street at which time is a logistical feat, and she’s been amazing.”

Mrs Wallace continued: “The foodbank allowed us to use their logo and branding when posting social media articles to drum up community support.

“They helped us print leaflets with foodbank and Dream Doors logos on to post through letterboxes about the scheme to raise awareness.

"They also created an official foodbank email address and integrated us.”

After receiving the Community Champion of the Year award, Mrs Wallace said: “I want to express a huge thank you to everyone involved for every leaflet printed and posted, every mile walked and driven, every tin, packet, bag and box collected, every supportive message, every social media reply and every smile and wave at doorsteps and the warehouse.

“The contributions from March 2020 until March 2021 equated to 12 per cent of all donations to the West Berks Foodbank.

"By September 2021, we have collected nearly 25 tonnes in donations from doorsteps around West Berkshire.”

Despite the Covid-19 restrictions continuing to ease across the UK, Mr and Mrs Wallace still accept donations at the showroom. The ‘Foodbank on your Doorstep’ team is still working hard.

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