Hotelier opens up 'pop up' shop as lifeline for elderly and vulnerable in Padiham as coronavirus crisis takes hold
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Michael Huckerby, who owns The Lawrence Hotel in Padiham, was shocked to see dozens of elderly residents distraught that they could not get basic food and groceries because supermarket shelves had been stripped bare by people stockpiling items due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
He said: "It made me so angry but I thought that is not helping anyone so I came up with idea for the shop."
After ordering £800 worth of stock from a wholesalers Michael was dealt a blow to be told he could only have £27 worth of it.
So he enlisted the help of his niece, schoolteacher Jennifer Simpson and Vikki Harris, who is the marketing director for Visit Lancashire and the three of them went on separate shopping expeditions across the North West to get the goods they needed.
The shop opened at the weekend, from 10am to 2pm, and will open at the same times next weekend but Michael feels it will operate more on a delivery basis due to social distancing restrictions.
Michael added that he had been touched by the number of people who had offered to buy something from the shop to show him their support.
He added: "This gesture has really touched me but the shop is not about supporting me, it is not for profit and about helping the many elderly and vulnerable who live close to the hotel to get what they need."
Michael, who opened The Lawrence boutique hotel in 2018, said the community spirit shown in Padiham was the strongest he had ever witnessed in his life saying: "I have lived all over the world including New York, Florida and in the UK Manchester and London but the friendliness of the people in Padiham, who really care about each other, is the best I have ever seen anywhere."
The hotel remains open although Michael is not encouraging visitors for leisure to go there so that his rooms can be available for nurses, engineers and other key workers.