Riot-hit Hackney shopkeeper wins national award

A Hackney shopkeeper, whose business was nearly destroyed by looters during the riots, has been crowned ‘Independent Community Retailer of the Year’.

Siva Kandiah scooped the gong at a glitzy awards evening hosted by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NRFN) at a hotel in central London last night (Tuesday).

The 39-year-old was “devastated” when Clarence Convenience was trashed, and most of the stock stolen, during the disturbances in Clarence Road, Lower Clapton, on August 8. He feared his business was finished because his insurance didn’t cover looting and there were no compensation schemes set up at that time.

But loyal customers, led by Cllr Ian Rathbone, rallied around and launched the ‘Friends of Siva’ appeal fund, which raised more than �30,000 to help the shopkeeper return to business.

His store – now officially named Siva’s Shop – re-opened just one week after the riots.

Mr Kandiah said: “It was very exciting to be nominated but I didn’t think I’d win. When they said my name it was surprising, but very nice.

“I think I won because of my customers – the community really supported me and that’s a great thing.”

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The shopkeeper added he will proudly display the award behind the counter for his customers to see.

Cllr Rathbone said: “It’s fantastic news that he’s got this recognition from his industry, because he worked so hard to get his business up and running again.

“I remember seeing him standing outside selling bread and newspapers even when the shop was closed up.

“We’re really pleased for him because he’s a very popular person in the community.”

A NRFN spokeswoman said the judges were impressed by how strongly customers felt about Mr Kandiah.

She added: “The award is presented for a consistent and committed contribution to the local community.”

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