Betting shop staff in Dunoon have won national recognition for their fundraising and volunteering work in the local community.
The Ladbrokes shop in the town’s Moir Street beat entrants from across Scotland to win the ‘Community Betting Shop of the Year Award’ for 2018.
And for shop manager Lucy Richmond, who has worked in the shop since she was 18 and retires this year after 44 years service, the win is especially poignant.
She said: “I’ve worked in this shop since I was 18 and obviously I’ve been brought up with a lot of our customers. We know everyone so well and everyone knows us so well.
“I know our customers will be delighted for us. I think they’ll say it’s much deserved because of what we do for the community. I’m supposed to be retiring this year and I’m going out with a bang. I’m totally overwhelmed. I just can’t believe it, it’s fabulous.”
Caroline Guchine, Market Place Manager for Ladbrokes, has responsibility for the company’s Dunoon and Rothesay shops. She said: “This is an honour for myself and my team who have worked hard for many years doing so many different things for charity and for the community. Our customers are so generous. We go that extra mile for them and that’s what makes this job so special. It’s a great community.”
Launched by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) Scotland, the trade body for retail betting shops in Scotland, the competition aims to recognise the contribution betting shop staff make in their local communities through volunteering, fundraising and bringing people in the community together.
William Hill’s Johnstone shop won second place and Scotbet’s Selkirk branch third place.
ABB Scotland spokesman Donald Morrison said: “We launched this competition because we felt it was important to celebrate the amazing work that so many staff do in their local community through fundraising and volunteering. Many of our staff like Lucy have worked in the industry for decades and take a real pride in their work and in their local community.
“This community spirit is perfectly illustrated in Dunoon, Johnstone and Selkirk where shop staff have been making a real difference to their communities for years.
“We employ around 5,000 people in Scotland, many of them in smaller and remote communities, where the betting shop is one of the few community facilities left standing. These shops not only provide an important stimulus for other retailers, drawing people into the centre, but also provide a meeting place, particularly for older customers who might otherwise be socially isolated.
“As an industry, we contribute around £235 million in Scotland through taxes, rent, rates and salary costs but it’s impossible to put a value on the difference it makes to some people just to have a friendly, familiar face to chat to.”
Judges awarded the prize to Ladbrokes Dunoon for their impressive fundraising efforts in support of local charities, sports groups and health facilities. Over the past two decades, shop staff have raised in excess of £50,000 through race nights, coffee mornings, sponsored walks and raffles.
In the past 12 months alone, the team have raised around £5000 for good causes.
Darren Wales, Regional Operations Manager for Ladbrokes in Scotland, added: “This is a true example of our betting shops being at the heart of their local areas, engaging in community spirit and helping good causes. We are delighted that our colleagues’ dedication is being rewarded and we would like to say a huge congratulations to them, for really going the extra mile.”
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) and one of the competition judges, said: “Betting shops are an important part of the fabric of our high streets, supporting local jobs, the retail sector and the public purse, but they also serve as important community hubs, a place where local people can meet, bet and socialise in a safe, friendly environment.
“All of the finalists underline the importance of betting shops to the communities they serve and I believe we should do more to preserve these shops, before another vital community asset is lost from our town centres.”