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Staff at Tesco Express in Bearsted, Ashford Road, donate goods to Demelza House, Rook Lane, Bobbing

Good-willed service station staff have donated a hamper of paints, night lights and towels to a children’s hospice, instead of spending the money on themselves.

Employees at Tesco Esso Express in Bearsted, near Maidstone, decided to gift their annual Christmas celebration fund, worth £130, to Demelza House, in Rook Lane, Bobbing. As well as this, the workers have spent their own money on goods for the charity, totalling £70.

Tesco Express Bearsted staff John Everhurst, Tim Hatcher, Chris Oliver, Stephanie Clarkson and Sam Traynor with gifts for Demelza House. Picture: Matthew Walker. (24987936)
Tesco Express Bearsted staff John Everhurst, Tim Hatcher, Chris Oliver, Stephanie Clarkson and Sam Traynor with gifts for Demelza House. Picture: Matthew Walker. (24987936)

Store manager Steph Clarkson, 32, said: “As a team we are quite close. It was a shared idea to do something a bit more beneficial and make more of a difference with that money.”

The Christmas celebration fund would have been spent on small gifts and treats for the team of 24, to say thank you for their hard work.

The group originally considered donating the money to the children’s ward at Maidstone Hospital but there were logistical problems involved.

Miss Clarkson, from Gillingham, said: “One of my staff said, ‘actually we could do something very similar’ and we decided we could make a massive difference to somebody and try and give them the best Christmas.”

After asking the hospice what kind of presents they would like, Claire and her colleagues rushed out to Maidstone to buy toiletries and arts and craft sets for the children.

Demelza House Hospice in Rook Lane, Bobbing, have received the donation Picture: Chris Davey
Demelza House Hospice in Rook Lane, Bobbing, have received the donation Picture: Chris Davey

“It’s nothing special or major, but hopefully the kids can get good use of them,” said Miss Clarkson, who has worked at the shop for two-and-a-half years.

The team have still celebrated the Christmas season, having organised their own secret Santa and enjoyed a festive feast, provided by Tesco.

This is not the first time workers at the store, in Ashford Road, have raised money for charity. This year they collected more than £240 for Scannappeal, which funds medical equipment for hospitals.

Despite the prospect of fewer mince pies and Christmas chocolates, all the Bearsted staff immediately agreed to donate the celebration fund. Miss Clarkson said: “We always do stuff for other charities but this is the first time my team have really come together and gone the extra mile.

“I am really proud of my team and the fact they have donated their Christmas fund and they have given extra.

“This will make a real concrete difference. I would love to do more going forward. This might become a bit of a tradition for us and not just at Christmas.”

The staff all have Christmas Day off before the store reopens on Boxing Day.

From its base near Sittingbourne, Demelza Hospiceprovides tailored care to babies, children and young adults with terminal and life-limiting illnesses across Kent, south east London and east Sussex.

Their nurses, therapists and volunteers aim to give families the time and space to feel like families again.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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