Wethersfield barman-turned-shopkeeper hailed a Lockdown Hero
- Credit: Celia Bartlett Photography
The man who converted part of his village's social club into a shop has been hailed a Lockdown Hero.
When residents struggled to access essential supplies during the Covid pandemic in May 2020, Wethersfield Club steward Matt Suckling began converting an old snooker room into a village shop.
It has since become a permanent fixture, and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in north-west Essex has named Matt one of its Lockdown Heroes for stepping up to help his community despite restrictions on everyday trading.
Janet Drysdale of NW Essex CAMRA paid a surprise visit to the Wethersfield Club on Monday, September 27 to hand Matt his award.
She told this newspaper: "Pubs and, in this case, clubs are hubs, and they provide a community outlet which can be used for so many different things.
"Matt is part of a movement to use pubs for other things.
"This gives people jobs and we have seen that it's really vital in creating a village community across the country."
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The Wethersfield Club was created shortly after the First World War as a place for the community to gather.
It is open to the public as well as its members.
The shop began as a small milk and bread round which Matt ran with his mum Kim Patmore at the beginning of lockdown.
Matt and Kim have been able to secure the correct licenses which will allow the shop to continue beyond Covid-19 trading restrictions.
The award was kept secret before Matt received it.
He said: "It was brilliant to receive the award. It was a real surprise.
"To be recognised like this by all sorts of people from the village is amazing.
"It started off as just us trying to get rid of some stock which we just couldn't keep.
"Since then, it has grown and grown and grown into something we are doing properly. As a club, we are doing all we can for the people who still cannot go out and about."
Matt thanked the club, community and the members who work alongside him for their support in creating the shop and securing the award.