A TRADER is celebrating being one of three people to have been given an award by Dursley Town Council.

Caroline Marrows, Aaron Harris, and Marisa Dexter have been announced as the recipients of this year’s Leslie D Gale award.

The award was instituted in 1994, as a tribute to the late Mr Gale, who was the last Chairman of Dursley Parish Council and the first Mayor of Dursley. The award not only recognises longevity of service to the community but also impact.

All the recipients received nominations from the community.

This week, the Gazette caught up with award winner Caroline Marrows, who runs Inches fabric shop, to find out more about her role in the community.

Caroline has lived in and around Dursley all her life, other than for three years when she lived in Bristol while studying to become a physiotherapist.

“It’s a great honour to have been nominated for this award,” she said.

“I remember meeting Mr Gale when I was a child as we both attended St James the Great Church in town.”

Caroline still attends St James, where she is currently the church warden.

She bought Inches, on Parsonage Street in Dursley, five-and-a-half years ago.

At the time, she was head of profession for physiotherapy and trust lead for research governance for 2Gether NHS Trust.

“My passion was to improve physiotherapy practice and service for people needing mental health support and to people with learning disabilities,” she said.

One of Caroline’s work highlights was when she was invited to make a presentation about postural care for people with profound and multiple disabilities at the World Congress for Neuro-rehabilitation in Hong Kong.

“So it was quite a change of direction when five-and-a-half years ago I spoke to Alison, the former owner of Inches, on a Saturday morning and wrote my letter of resignation on the Sunday afternoon,” she said.

Caroline has maintained her registration as a physiotherapist and due to the current pandemic has asked to go onto the emergency Covid-19 register which means that she can help out if required.

She loves being based in the centre of town and enjoys working with the other businesses and town groups for the benefit of the town.

She is currently the secretary for the Dursley businesses group.

“The best part is, of course, all the lovely customers who continue to support my small shop so enthusiastically,” she said.

For the past 20 years Caroline has been a supporter of the Stroud Women’s Refuge, and 10 years ago she helped to formalise the Friends of the Refuge Committee.

“Ever since a friend at work had to flee, with a small baby, from an abusive partner in the middle of the night, I started just putting together welcome boxes to go in the bedrooms at the refuge,” she said.

During lockdown, Caroline and a couple of friends formed an NHS scrubs making group.

“We ended up with a team of 68 sewists, six volunteer drivers and three admins and after fundraising we were able to make 906 sets of scrubs which we delivered to 52 different NHS teams, all free of charge to the recipients.

“That all seems quite surreal now that the shop is back open, but it certainly kept me busy and feeling useful.”

Caroline is currently fundraising for Longfield Hospice and was due to take a free fall parachute jump for them in June, but it has been postponed until September.

“I am a glass half full type of person and I believe that we can all make a huge difference by accumulative small acts of kindness,” she said.

“My favourite saying is from Ethiopia and it says ‘a smile is the shortest path between two people’.”