Aylesbury’s new Asda store was opened this morning by the boss of disabled charity Wheelpower, which is based at nearby Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
Martin McElhatton, a long-standing member of the community today opened the supermarket at Stoke Mandeville Hospital following the store’s search for a ‘local hero’.
He was joined at the ribbon cutting by deputy mayor of Aylesbury, Tuffail Hussain.
New store manager, James Stuckey, said: “Thank you to everyone who joined us for our grand opening and made it such a fun and vibrant occasion.
“It was a huge honour to be able to bring more than 75 new jobs to the area and we are committed to offering great customer service and being an active member of our new community.
“I’d like to congratulate Martin and thank him and the Deputy Mayor for helping open our store – we hope this is the first of many great days here in Aylesbury.”
A large number of shoppers turned out for the opening – but at least one of them was left unimpressed.
Joanne Roca (@Joroca) tweeted: “Shop too small. Car park too small. People driving in then straight out. Lack of spaces.
“Aisles not wide enough to accommodate the amount of buggys, prams, wheelchairs that will frequent the store!!”
Asda Aylesbury has nominated ‘WheelPower’ as one of their first three local charities in their ‘Chosen by you, given by us scheme’.
Similar to Waitrose, customers will be given a token to place in a voting bin to select which of the three groups they think is most worthy. The group with the most tokens after two months will receive a cheque donation from the store.
After a spinal cord injury in 1979 and rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Mr McElhatton represented Great Britain at wheelchair basketball.
But for the last 25 years Martin has dedicated his life to transforming the lives of other disabled adults and children by giving them the opportunity to play sport and live healthy active lifestyles.
In 2012 Martin enabled over 49,000 disabled people to access sport at Stoke Mandeville Stadium through his work for WheelPower.
Friend and Colleague, Ollie Moore, said: “Martin has not only helped local disabled people through sport, but he has helped embed a sense of inclusion amongst the local community. For every Paralympic Games going forward no matter where it is held in the world, the Torch Relay will pass through Stoke Mandeville as a celebration. Martin was pivotal in making this idea become a reality for local residents.”