Craig Browne receives British Empire medal

Regal Business Development Manager, Craig Browne has been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen for launching a foodbank which distributed 16,000 food parcels and 1,000 wellbeing packs during lockdown.

Let’s start with the obvious question – how did it all come about?

It started in the first lockdown when I was furloughed along with millions of other people in the country. I’m a doer and after the novelty wore off, I decided that I wanted to do something positive and useful with my time. The news was dominated with stories of families who were struggling to put food on the table so I decided to launch the foodbank with the help of friends and colleagues at Droitwich Rugby Club.

How successful was it?

During the first lockdown I’m pleased to say that we delivered a total of 16,000 parcels to households throughout Worcestershire. Working with Droitwich Community Volunteer Service which provides transport for the elderly, we delivered bacon rolls at the weekend and I know it made a huge difference to see a friendly face and have a chat. In some cases, we were the only human contact people had. In the second lockdown the focus shifted from food to the mental health challenges that people were facing, so we put together 1,000 Wellbeing parcels which included items such as jigsaws, puzzles, chocolates and other small treats.

It sounds like a big undertaking – how did you get it off the ground?

The first requirement was to establish a base to operate from. I work as honorary operations manager at Droitwich Rugby Club where I also play and got permission to use the club house as our HQ. I then spoke with the Council, struck-up a relationship with the key charity services, secured the support of some really generous supporters and alongside numerous members of the club I rolled my sleeves-up and got on with it.

You even received a visit from Princess Anne – tell us about that

Princess Anne is Patron of the Scottish Rugby Union and she paid a visit to us at Droitwich rugby club. I was responsible for hosting her on the day and showing her around, we had a lot of banter about the state of Scottish rugby and she stayed for nearly two hours when she was scheduled for just 30 minutes. It was a big personal highlight for me to meet her and be able to explain what we were doing.

Have you received your medal?

Obviously, everything has been disrupted by Covid but the investiture will take place later in the year. I’ve also been invited to attend the Royal Tea Party at Buckingham Palace which will take place next summer.

Finally, did the skills developed working at Regal help in completing what was a momentous challenge?

Our industry is about going the extra distance and delivering on your promises. Being able to build relationships with organisations such as Waitrose – who donated £800 of stock to us every single week – Morrisons and Bookers as well as the council and the CVS, was crucial. Relationships are pivotal in business and the skills that I use on a daily basis in terms of managing situations and working with colleagues to deliver positive outcomes most definitely helped.