Co-op worker who collected toys for sick children suspended
CUSTOMERS are flabbergasted at the suspension of a longstanding member of shop staff who donated dozens of cuddly toys to sick children.
Stan Rudge hasn't been allowed back to work at the Midcounties Co-operative in Lydney for a fortnight.
He and colleague Trena Gwilliam handed the Goodness Gang toys to children at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital this week.
It is believed he has been suspended over an alleged irregularity in the way coupons for the toys were collected.
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Customers are backing the 36-year-old evening supervisor who has worked at the store for 10 years.
"I can't understand it," said one Lydney resident, who did not want to be named.
"He's tried to do something good for children in hospital and, apparently, he has been suspended. I know quite a few customers have been asking what's going on and it seems sad it has come to this."
He and Trena collected stickers for the Goodness Gang toys from customers who didn't want them or wanted them to go to the collection for the hospital.
The fruit and veg-shaped toys could be bought for £1 each with 20 stickers, which were given out to every customer when they spent £5 in a Co-op store.
Mr Rudge said he is accused of using stickers collected from customers after the closing date of the offer.
"Quite often customers would give us the stickers to collect, so we could collect them and claim them for the toys which we gave to the children," he said.
It was Trena's idea to raise the money and collect the stickers in memory of their work colleague Julie Norton, who died of cancer, and their respective mums, who both died recently. Up to 70 of the Goodness Gang toys were collected and given out and the affair has left Mr Rudge upset and angry.
"I still don't understand officially why I have been suspended and I don't know when this will be resolved," said Mr Rudge.
"A lot of people gave loads of stickers for this collection."
Yesterday, a Midcounties Co-operative spokeswoman said it could not go into detail and issued a statement on the company's behalf.
She said: "This is a confidential matter and as the case is still under investigation we are unable to comment further."