A 90-year-old community hero, two police officers, one arrest and 500 people queuing was how Asda was welcomed to Mitcham this week.
Those who descended on Western Road on Monday saw a “remarkable” 90-year-old officially open a new 27,000sq ft superstore and were met with massive queues as people packed the aisles – forcing managers at one point to close their doors having reached full capacity.
Florence Bowring, a Mitcham resident and long-standing member of the Pollards Hill Community Centre Association, was nominated to officially open the store as a VIP guest after dedicating decades of service as a volunteer in the community.
Over the years she has organised many fundraising events and clubs, including a lunch club to help prevent social isolation within the older community, before retiring last year.
She said: “It was wonderful news, but I would like to point out that I’m just one of many.
“A strong belief in community spirit was instilled in me from a young age and I firmly believe you can achieve so much and bring joy to a lot of people when you join forces with your neighbours. I would to like to dedicate this to all the fantastic volunteers I work alongside every week.”
During the celebrations one woman was arrested after police were called in to the store to break up a verbal dispute.
A Merton police spokesman said: “There was no fighting – it was just verbal between two groups of women.
“Two police officers went down there and it was dispersed.”
“One woman has been arrested and is helping police with their enquiries.”
The new store has created more than 100 new jobs.
Store manager Daniel Silverside-Brooks said: “It has been a long time coming, a lot of hours have been spent and everyone has worked very hard, so today is a proud moment.
“We feel very privileged to be joining such a welcoming community and I would like to thank everyone who attended and made it such a special occasion.”