How the Health Care Started
The Health Care health food shop was a prominent figure on Ashley Rd Upper Parkstone since 1981 when it was first opened from scratch by Elsa Bowater. The shop, which moved next door to the current premises in 1985, specialised in wholefoods, healthy eating and homeopathic remedies, relatively new things in the 1980s. Elsa ran the shop until her retirement in 2003, with the support of her husband and children.
The most recent owner Michael Simpson, who had previously been an estate agent, was a real family man with 2 daughters he shared with his wife Sue, and 4 granddaughters. A proper Geordie and a loyal Newcastle football team fan, as described by his daughter Joanne, he was a straight talker and said it how it was. You could always rely on him to be honest!
Michael was very proud to own an independent business and stocked his shop full of vitamins and supplements, organic foods including nuts, seeds, spices, and cereals and much more. He also supported local businesses by stocking locally produced honey and free-range eggs. A true Aladdin’s cave where there was always something new to find! Essential oils were also an important part of the store, with Michael enjoying Lavender oil to help him relax at home.
Always going the extra mile to help his customers, Vicki, a customer of Mike's, remembers that ‘nothing was ever too much trouble for Michael where advice was concerned, even if we didn’t buy anything. [He] also reminded me of my Dad when I spoke to him…[He] was from the North East and Michael sounded just like him’.
Another customer, Mike, also ‘enjoyed hearing Michael’s lovely gentle North East accent’ reminding him of his own roots and ‘giving some variety to the Ashley Road experience’. He was also struck by photos that Michael kept by the till, clearly wanting to keep his loved ones close. Mike also remembers that ‘the shop was always well stocked, and Michael’s hand-written offer signs became part of the landscape’.
When the first lockdown came, Michael shut the shop with the hope to redecorate. His kind and generous nature was clearly shown when he gave away his perishable stock to friends, family, and neighbours. In the past the shop had been bright yellow, cheery and inviting to everyone who came through the door, windows filled with posters and the NHS rainbows, however Michael decided to make the most of lockdown and modernise the shop with a few coats of magnolia.
However, very sadly on 28th April 2020 just as Mike had finished redecorating, and restocking the shop and was preparing to open he suddenly and unexpectedly died of a thoracic aortic aneurysm, his only warning being some heartburn sensations. This tragedy left a huge hole, not just in his family but in the wider community. His community hub remained closed after all his hard work.
What highlighted to us how important Michael and his shop were to the local community was the numerous customers of his that came to our shop after he died. They always came with a fond memory of shopping there and spoke of how sad it was that he died so suddenly.
We also then realised how important it was for us to keep the shop going.
Who is behind this project?
Hi! We are the guys behind this renovation project, we are so excited to play our part in this local cause. We are called Eco Natural Products.
"When Michael suddenly died, I thought that it would be so shame if this health store would disappear from the local community. When I saw the property on the market I placed an offer immediately, I just could not resist of the thought that someone else would take it and open at this place some other activity not related to a food and health care industry. I thought it is a perfect opportunity grow our presence by continuing this health food store which was very supportive to the local people and businesses around". - said Agnieszka, the founder of Eco Natural Products.
Since we first opened our doors in 2016 to the local community we have wanted to support local people in finding natural, eco-friendly, healthy, and high quality affordable products to help them live life to the full. We love sharing advice with our customers and watching them become regulars and friends. We do have selections of natural and organic food as well household items.
Our founder eco enthusiast Agnieszka
We feel very lucky to have our shop in the Upper Parkstone Community and we feel so at home there. And this is what we do have in our little store:
What will crowdfunding achieve?
Covid-19 has been such a challenging time for everyone. Our health and how to care for ourselves has become such an important focus, from exercise and adapting our diets, to taken supplements to boost our immune system, and even to support our emotional wellbeing.
We are all also so aware of the impact our actions have on our environment too, and many of our customers want a more sustainable way of life for the future. We want to provide them with knowledge of how to do this.
Luckily we have been able to stay open to offer help to our local community, and we want this to continue. Growing our services and increasing our products would help us to offer support to more people and we have big plans.
We would like:
- to dedicate a space in the shop of Michael's memories
- to continue to provide excellent health care advise
- to invest in healthcare and nutritional training
- to offer organic, free-from and nutritious food range to include food refills, providing our local community with more healthy choices would be amazing.
- to install high quality food refill tubes which would help us work towards being plastic free, and also lower prices for our customers.
- to renovate the shop in eco sustainable way with the least impact on our planet. With this in mind we want to re-use as much shop furniture as possible by fixing, repainting and improving.
- to look for of a use reclaimed wood, possible for floor or other shop elements. Reclaimed resources will be what our new shop is made of and sustainability is key to our environmentally friendly ethos. However we need physical help and skills to put these in place, so we seek local people with time and skills to help restore the interior with us.
- to bring the opportunity to support more local businesses like honey from the local Beekeepers. Their love for the hives produce the most health beneficial honey that we know is not only high quality and can help with hay fever symptoms, but the local bees support the wider environment by pollinating plants and keeping the local ecosystem in balance.
With your help, we can move further towards a plastic free and healthier community and environment!
Social benefits of a community shop
From all the lovely stories and memories that Michael’s family, friends and customers have shared with us we cannot deny that his shop was a community shop. We want to keep this going. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience about our products and their benefits.
We want to offer a space that isn’t just a shop, but a community hub. Our doors are open for a friendly chat, advice, a chance to find something new.
We envisage our shop to be a place to visit with friends and family, discover new products, support wellbeing, and seek advice. We aim to partner with other community organisations to offer well rounded support to our customers.
To be a positive influence in our community is the dream!