Wednesday, 9 May 2012


DRESSING up in a bunny costume, walking 5km for charity or working with local traders are all just part of  a day’s work for Sian Smail. As ‘Community Champion’ for Tesco’s supermarket on Portland it is her job to rally colleagues and people in the local community to work together in raising funds and awareness for all sorts of worthy causes. This year the store’s chosen charity is Cancer Research UK and here Sian also talks about the ways in which she is hoping to reach the fundraising target and get as many people as possible involved in the campaign. Sian is 32 years old and lives on Portland with her two children.

HOW did you come to be living on Portland?
I moved here from the Bournemouth area three years ago.  My family are from Wales but I was born in France and I grew up in Somerset. As a student I lived in Leeds and when I got my first career job it brought me down to Dorset to be an Assistant Manager in a residential home for the elderly in Poole. 

SO HOW did you end up working as a ‘Community Champion’ for Tesco?
Circumstances really... and it fitted in well with childcare and family commitments. I have very flexible working hours and Tesco are a great company to work for. The Portland store opened here in Easton last February and I started the job last September.

WHAT is your role at Tesco?
My role is Community Champion. It means I go out and about within the community working with all sorts of different groups like Scouts, schools, pre-schools. I work with them on fundraising projects, give talks, and organise things like healthy eating campaigns and visits from the police service. At the moment I’m working with business studies students at Royal Manor School on a customer services training project. I also work with the Easton Traders Group and the Portland Community Partnership – we’re trying to encourage people to shop in Easton and work out ways we can best support the local traders and bring a greater footfall into Portland.

IT SOUNDS like you really enjoy your job?
I love my job! It’s so varied - you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen from one day to the next. Some days I’m walking round the store helping with a bag-pack fundraiser, other days I’m out in the community working with all sorts of interesting people. Over Easter I dressed up as a large dancing bunny to raise money for Cancer Research UK which is Tesco’s Charity of the Year. I managed to raise £109 in just two hours which was pretty good going, even for a rabbit! Our target for this store is £2,500. Last year our charity of the year was the Alzheimer’s Society, I managed to exceed our target by nearly £500 and am hoping to do the same for Cancer Research UK.

WHAT kind of events have you got lined up to help you reach that target?
I’ve got a large team of people from the store going out to take part in the Race For Life events in Dorchester on May 20th and Poole on June 24th. I’m going to take part in the Poole race myself but I’ll be walking it not running. Anyone can do it – it’s only 5km and you don’t have to be super fit to take part. The brilliant thing is that individual staff fundraising is then topped up by 20 per cent by Tesco.

DO YOU find the people of Portland to be generous in their giving?
Yes, amazingly generous – not just with their money but also with their time and enthusiasm, especially considering that the area is not particularly wealthy and with the economy being as it is. The local population has been incredible in supporting all our local community groups and our charity of the year.

IF A visitor came to Portland and wanted to see the highlights, where would you take them?
I’d definitely take them around Portland Bill - the views are so fantastic, and there’s a beautiful little café down there as well which makes it an ideal place to go. Then there are the quarries which have sculptures and show off the craftsmanship that the island holds. I’d also take them to the old unused quarries by The Verne which is now a Wildlife Nature Reserve, and then we’d go up to the viewing point on The Heights where you can see the entire stretch of Chesil Beach on a clear day.

WHAT would you do if you won the Lottery?
After the normal things of buying a house and getting some security for my childrens future, I’d then by a brand new car, have a shopping spree and go on a nice holiday somewhere – anywhere hot and sunny. Just a few simple pleasures.

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