By Tim Clarke 27/03 Updated: 27/03 11:30
THE WAIT was finally over for shoppers on Monday as a huge queue of people gathered to check out Worcester's newest supermarket which threw open its doors for the first time.
The opening of the city's first Asda in Lowesmoor attracted a large crowd of customers eager to be among the first to browse the store which has been built on the former Hill Evans and Co vinegar works.
Asda staff dished out free samples of food and drink before local hero Paul McFarlane cut the ribbon with children from Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School and Worcester Mayor Dr David Tibbutt, sparking a rush for the aisles.
Mr McFarlane was awarded the title of local hero after being nominated for his exceptional work with local children in care, having spent a turbulent childhood in the care system himself.
He also served in the British Armed Forces for 23 years, where he suffered severe bomb injuries, faced kidnap by the IRA and received numerous citations for bravery.
He said: "I was very nervous to be honest. It was a bit of a shock to be nominated in the first place but it's such a great honour and I'm very grateful to Asda and Carl Robinson, the director Archways Care, who nominated me. I was just amazed at how many people there were here - I think it surprised Asda too."
Store manager Richard Kinnea, who also helped open Asda's new supermarket in Halesowen, admitted the level of interest had even exceeded his expectations.
"Just looking at the amount of people queueing to get in was fantastic and it has made all the hard work worthwhile," he said.
"There was a lot of interest in Halesowen but I have never seen anything on this scale. It has been hard work getting everything ready but everybody has come together and done a great job."
The new store, which has created more than 300 jobs, includes a café, pharmacy and photo centre as well as a multi-storey pay and display car park and a large George clothing section.
Asda has preserved the old vinegar factory's cellars and incorporated the former Counting House into the store's new entrance. Hill Evans and Co was once the largest manufacturer of vinegar in the world before its closure in 1965.
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