MP visit tops Best Wishes trophy

Winning indies enjoy delayed Westminster trip to celebrate retailer award


Winning is always wonderful – and an added special trip to Westminster is the icing on the cake for Best Wishes’ owners Russell and Yvonne Payne.

Having seen off the likes of John Lewis to pick up the Southern Daily Echo Retailer Of The Year trophy for their independent greeting card and gift store in Bishop’s Waltham, the couple are just back from a very special behind-the-scenes visit to the Houses Of Parliament to celebrate their achievement.

Local MP Flick Drummond extended the invitation after Best Wishes was announced as winner at the end of 2021 but the visit was delayed until last week (25 April) due to Covid restrictions.

Above: Behind the scenes – Best Wishes owners Russell and Yvonne at Westminster
Above: Behind the scenes – Best Wishes owners Russell and Yvonne at Westminster

“It was a day we won’t forget!” Russell told PG Buzz. “We met Flick in The Great Hall and then spent over two hours with her on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Houses Of Parliament, including coffee on the MPs’ terrace overlooking the Thames.

“We both felt so honoured that our success had been recognised in such a way and so grateful to Flick for giving of her time.”

Flick, MP for Meon Valley, commented; “The Retailer Of The Year award was a great accolade to your hard work and I know that the last two years have not been easy. Many congratulations on your success. I hope to visit your shop in the not-too-distant future.”

Above: Team trophy – Russell and Yvonne celebrating with staff
Above: Team trophy – Russell and Yvonne celebrating with staff

Run by the respected Hampshire newspaper, the Southern Daily Echo Awards are highly regarded and Russell said they had been delighted to even reach the finals, especially as the competition is completely reliant on public nominations.

“And then for customers to collect and post off coupons they collected from the newspaper to vote for us as the winner is incredibly gratifying,” Russell added. “I never thought we’d win over John Lewis – but it just goes to show how much people appreciate personal service from retailers in their community.”

Top: Tea on the terrace – Russell and Yvonne Payne with MP Flick Drummond (centre)

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