A family-run business that had to put its 40th anniversary celebrations on hold due to COVID, has finally marked the milestone with a presentation at their Annaghmore store.

Father and son, Thomas and Andrew Willis of Willis’ SPAR Annaghmore, alongside Andrew’s wife Gillian, were presented with a commemorative plaque, flowers and a cake to mark their contribution to the local community since Thomas and Margaret purchased the shop and Post Office in 1980.

Thomas’s son, Andrew and his wife Gillian now look after the main operations of the popular Derrycoose Road store and have reflected on the hub of the community the outlet has become over the years.

Thomas commented; “It is hard to believe we’ve been operating in the village for over 40 years now, but we’re glad to be able to mark the milestone albeit a year late!

“Being part of the community is very important to our family, we want to be able to support local organisations, clubs and groups and ensure we’re providing a vital service for our local shoppers. Some proud memories from over the years include being one of the first stores to fundraise for and install a defibrillator outside the store as part of Henderson Group’s Heart of the Community campaign which belongs to the whole community, and of course being extremely proactive in delivering to our local area during COVID lockdowns last year.”

Over the years, Willis’ SPAR has supported local primary school Orchard County with sports day kits, fundraised for Marie Curie and NI Chest, Heart & Stroke and sponsors Loughgall Football Club and Annaghmore GAA Club.

Andrew added; “Gillian and I run the store on a daily basis now, and we’re continuing to ensure the store provides what our local community needs. Our family has invested over £400,000 in the store over the years to allow us to do that, as well as bringing employment opportunities locally. We have a lot to thank our team for, and we look forward to another thriving 40 years!”