Village shop owner receives British Empire Medal - 'I am very humbled'

The owner of a village shop near Petworth has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to the community.

Known locally as Jeeva, Theivandiram Jeevathasan has owned Graffham Village Shop with his wife Vasukee (Vasu) for 13 years.

Jeeva, 45, has been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to Graffham, during the coronavirus pandemic, turning the shop into a 'thriving local community asset'.

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It comes two months after the couple received a Community Champion award, having helped to ‘hold the village together’. Read more here

Known locally as Jeeva, Theivandiram Jeevathasan has owned Graffham Village Shop with his wife Vasukee (Vasu) for 13 years. Photo: Colin Barker

Jeeva said: "I am absolutely thrilled to have received this honour and am very grateful to those members of the Graffham community who have recommended that receive I this award."

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Jeeva and Vasu transformed their shop into an online outlet so that it could meet the villagers' needs.

With restrictions on the numbers in the shop at any time, locals were invited to email or telephone their orders to the shop.

A team of volunteers then distributed the groceries safely to each individual, whilst also delivering medicines, from local practices, to vulnerable patients.

"I came to this wonderful village thirteen years ago to run the village shop," Jeeva said. "I was helped extensively by all the people I met and my wife and family quickly became accepted into and part of the village community.

"The village extended the shop which enabled me to offer a wide range of products and, in return, the village supported the shop and safeguarded its future by giving me and my family a viable living."

Jeeva said the shop has been a 'lifeline to many people' during the pandemic, particularly the older generation, who have had to 'self-isolate due to health fears'.

He added: "I had not thought twice about delivering supplies to them and getting in other products as they required to save them from venturing out. It was just part of the normal provision and service to help my customers, friends and neighbours.

"With all the extraordinary help of the amazing volunteers and my great staff who are still carrying on to be excellent.

"I am very humbled that I have received this recognition and again am most grateful to all concerned.”

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