British Empire Medal awarded to Graffham shopkeeper for his services during Covid-19

The owner of Graffham Village Shop has been awarded a British Empire Medal for his support to the village during the pandemic.

Theivandiram Jeevathasan — known locally as Jeeva — was awarded the BEM by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex Susan Pyper, after being recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2020 for his services to the community during Covid-19.

As she presented the medal to Jeeva, Mrs Pyper said: “This is a very special occasion.

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"Graffham is so lucky to have you, and I am so proud to have you in West Sussex, for all you do for this village.”

The Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex presented Jeeva with the BEM on behalf of the Queen. Picture by Colin Barker.

When the pandemic started, Jeeva and his wife Vasu transformed Graffham Village Shop into an online outlet so that it could meet the villagers' needs.

Local residents were encouraged to email or telephone their orders and a team of volunteers would deliver the groceries safely to each individual. The hardworking team also helped to keep vulnerable residents safe by organising the collection and delivery of medicines.

During the award presentation — which was attended by many supportive residents of the village — Lord Lieutenant of Graffham David Young read out his citation to 'loud applause and ovations'.

He said: ”The advent of Covid-19 had implications for everyone in Graffham.

"Jeeva immediately transformed the shop to meet the villagers’ needs — all apparently seamlessly due to his mountain of goodwill, his technological skills, his planning and his amazing capability to keep the shop stocked with items unavailable elsewhere, all the while maintaining his tireless good humour.

"Jeeva made sure the most vulnerable were looked after, while understanding the risks to his own family.”

Jeeva's wife Vasu was also presented with a bouquet of flowers and a glass vase which had been specially comissioned by the Graffham Village Shop Association Committee to show their appreciation.

The beloved couple said: “We owe so many thanks to Graffham – for the support we have received over the years we have been here, but in particular during the difficult past couple of years, and a special mention also for the shop committee, all the team that has worked with us in the shop, and our many suppliers.

“We were so touched to see so many of our customers, friends and neighbours at the medal ceremony.

"We never dreamed so many would be there to help make it an even more special day for our family.”

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