For our latest member spotlight we caught up with Tony Goshawk, owner and market trader at Tony’s Fruit Stall, to hear about his experiences of working throughout the pandemic.
“For 36 years I have been trading in Kingston market and I’ve enjoyed every single day, Over those years, there have been many changes to adapt to, but March 23 2020 was very different. Covid-19 wielded it’s sword and changed everything! It was my worst day on the market ever. We saw panic buying in the supermarkets and my stock was selling out every day. Luckily, I could re-stock each day at my wholesalers but I had to implement rationing . I was extremely busy, but for the first time ever I was not enjoying it – I could see how scared everyone was. The town centre was deserted, everywhere was closed – it was like a post-apocalyptic scene in a film.
As an essential food trader, I was given the option to stay open so we did. We wanted to serve the local community and keep the market (the heart of Kingston) and the town alive. I enlisted help from Radio Jackie, set up a Facebook page and posted on the Neighbourhood pages. It worked, gradually more and more locals came – some that had never visited the market before. It was like the good old days! There was one local road where the whole street met outside at 8.30 am and all walked down together. Amazing!
I was worried about the older generation. They had gone through wars for us and survived, but this unseen killer was more frightening. I delivered safely to as many as possible. I saw people doing their elderly neighbours’ shopping. The homeless in Kingston were housed, helped and fed. Covid was nasty, but it brought out the best in so many of us. Kingston’s local residents were showing how they could pull together and do good. I was able to help many local individuals, communities and food banks with produce. I organised a huge raffle to thank the local care home staff and started a photo competition for the best produce pictures and recipes with weekly prizes.
Somehow, we survived all of the restrictions and now light is at the end of the tunnel. I still have strict Covid protocols around my stall; safety and quality for my customers always. The market is the heart of Kingston and it must survive. I would like to see help for the local younger generation with work opportunities to improve their self-esteem, especially after the year they have all just had. Let’s keep Kingston upon Thames alive and continue the generosity of this last year. The town that everyone is talking about!”
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