Co-op celebrates birthday by giving

Photo L-R: Co-op historian Alan Middleton, Chief Executive Ursula Lidbetter, Membership and community manager Sam Turner, Steve the historical pharmacist, current Co-op pharmacist Nick Carney and food store manager Steve Johnson.

Lincolnshire Co-operative is giving away half a million pounds worth of grants to 150 projects, to celebrate its upcoming 150th birthday.

With The Big Birthday Awards, any Lincolnshire project or cause that is a school, NHS organisation, charity or community group is eligible for a grant.

The projects that the money will be donated to must be one of five themes: community sport, heritage, health, environment or education.

Up for grabs are five grants of £25,000, 10 grants of £10,000, 20 grants of £5,000, 40 grants of £2,500 and 75 grants of £1,000.

Membership and Community Manager Sam Turner said: “We want to see applications from a wide range of organisations across our trading area.

“We can’t wait to hear about the range of good work going on throughout our community.

“During our 150 year history we’ve supported good causes which fit our values.

“In 1876 we set up an Educational Committee which raised the money to open the first free reading room in Lincoln.

“We also have a long record of helping health-related causes, including giving donations to Woodhall Spa Hospital, Mablethorpe Convalescent Home and Lincoln County Hospital in 1902.

“The Big Birthday Awards are a great way of celebrating what makes Lincolnshire Co-op different in our 150th year.”

The event was marked today at Lincolnshire Life Museum on Burton Road, where modern managers “met” with 19th century Co-op shop and pharmacy workers.

Also present was Lincolnshire Co-op’s restored 1970s bus, revamped by the Co-op Society’s Transport department, which will travel around upcoming local shows.

Birthday bash

As well as the grants, Lincolnshire Co-op has other events in store to celebrate its birthday.

The most notable is the Big Birthday Bash at Lincolnshire Showground on Saturday, September 3, with Scouting for Girls, Lulu and local bands.

A history book by Alan Middleton, a former Lincolnshire Co-op director and historian, will be published in September.

Customers can also look out for special scratch cards, a birthday brew, commemorative bulbs, birthday cupcakes and digital versions of the Society’s archives.

On Co-op’s actual birthday, August 19, presentations to winners of the Big Birthday Awards will be held.

Lincolnshire Co-operative’s Chief Executive Ursula Lidbetter said: “2011 is set to be a year to remember for all our loyal customers, colleagues, and of course, our members.

“We hope that as many people as possible celebrate our 150th birthday with us this year, whether by applying for a Big Birthday Award, coming along to our Big Birthday Bash or enjoying their own Birthday Cupcake.”

Groups are able to apply for the grants from May 9, and forms are available online, in-store or by calling (01522) 544632. The deadline for submissions is July 1.

To hear more about the grants and applying, listen to the interview with Sam Turner below: