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Thursday 9th October 2014 was an extra special evening for M&S as we held our annual employee awards ceremony – the Pride of M&S Awards. The night marked the 15th anniversary of the awards, which are dedicated to celebrating the fantastic stories of our colleagues going above and beyond, to do the right thing in their communities and for people in need. 

Since 1999, the awards have helped to ensure that in a business as big as ours, we don’t just focus on our day jobs. The awards are a glittering platform to recognise our local heroes, showcase our people’s stories and inspire others to get involved – ultimately building a more engaged and stronger workforce, which is really important to us. 

The awards categories recognise all types of activity and achievement: from individuals, teams and stores who have gone the extra mile to raise money for a local charity; to an outstanding achievement of a disadvantaged young person who has joined M&S through our employability programme and is now permanently employed with us; to incredible examples of individuals who give their time to care for a relative alongside achieving great things at work.

To add an extra special sparkle to this year’s awards, we matched the fundraising of the finalists for the ‘Fundraising Team’ category, amounting to a total of £47,000.  We also supported other causes close to our colleague’s hearts. This included a donation to the Chernobyl Children’s Project (based in Leeds), where Sharon Gardner (Leeds Moortown store) has dedicated 14 years to bring disabled and deprived children from Chernobyl, Ukraine to Leeds for a two week holiday. Not only does Sharon personally welcome 3 or 4 children into her own home, feeding them, clothing them and entertaining them, she raises £6000 each year to ensure these 12 children have the trip of their lives, this donation will help give her a well-deserved rest!

Pride of MandS

Another highlight of the evening for me was the ‘Outstanding Individual’ award winner. This award recognised an individual who has just completed his 40th year in voluntary work! He has held a first aid certificate since 1976, and one of his proudest moments was as a first aider in his store when he saved the life of baby Sam, aged 4 weeks. In the words of his manager, “he is not only an ambassador for St John’s Ambulance, The British Red Cross and Marks and Spencer; his passion to help others, his pride for his country and his overwhelming belief in his faith are exemplary.” Terry Slocombe from Preston Deepdale Store was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation and not a dry eye left in the room.

All of our past and present Pride of M&S Award winners are so deserving of our recognition and celebration. They are role models to all of us here, and the recognition of their endeavours is really important to our business. The awards continue to be a display of how our people enhance lives every day and in doing so make all of us in M&S very proud.

  • Read more about our employability programmes by reading our recent '10 years of Marks & Start' blog.
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