A REMOTE Sutherland community has succeeded in its campaign to persuade a supermarket giant to make home deliveries to their area.
Residents in Kinbrace were this week celebrating the very first home delivery to the area by Tesco.
A van emblazoned with the supermarket’s logo arrived in the isolated Strathhalladale village on Tuesday.
Ann Shaw, of Mission House, Kinbrace, is a member of the working group which masterminded the home delivery campaign.
She said it had been a nine-month battle to persuade the retailer to deliver and it was a victory for people power.
"It was a historic day for Kinbrace when the Tesco van arrived for the first time. There’s been a gaping need for home delivery to our isolated community particularly as there are a number of elderly people living here who cannot make it to the shops," she said.
"Up until now we’ve had to make a round trip of 105 miles to the nearest Tesco superstore in Wick."
The working group officially launched its home delivery campaign last October.
"Initially we approached the company’s dot com manager at Wick, Paul Ambler, and he told us that if we could get ten signatures or more, then they would give the home delivery a try," said Mrs Shaw.
"We launched a petition which was signed by all 20 or so householders in the district but when we gave it to Mr Ambler, he said he had changed his mind.
"We then took our campaign to Tesco’s head office and corresponded with internet director Ken Towle. We put our case to him and told him that the little people mattered."
However Mrs Shaw revealed that Tesco only capitulated when the group threatened to take their campaign to the press and the Scottish Office and also to talk to Asda about home deliveries from their new Tain store, now under construction.
"We sent the press statement we were proposing to make to Mr Towle and a reply came back that they had had a change of heart and that he could understand why we wanted Tesco to make home deliveries," said Mrs Shaw.
"It was a long drawn-out process but people power succeeded."
The feisty group of campaigners is now embarking on another campaign – to bring high-speed satellite broadband to the community.
"The present available broadband is very poor and not much better than dial-up with very poor speeds," said Mrs Shaw.
"We have to endure constant hiccups in the connection which also crashes regularly. At busy times it goes from bad to worse."
The group is particularly concerned because two young local residents are students and require broadband for their course work.
Continued Mrs Shaw: "The provision of satellite broadband will bring Kinbrace into the 21st Century and with it improved educational, employment and leisure opportunities for all."
A Tesco spokesperson said: "We always listen to our customers and we're really pleased to bring our delivery service to the people of Kinbrace. We work hard to ensure grocery delivery is available to as many customers as possible - 99.5% of our customers are currently covered by Tesco.com - and we hope that the Kinbrace community enjoys using the service."