Coles Group

While John Appleby, a Coles regional manager in NSW, was supporting hundreds of team members across multiple stores, his own family was being evacuated from their Batemans Bay home. At the height of the bushfire disaster, Batemans Bay Coles was the only supermarket open in town for three days.

With roads blocked and little external help available, John and his team kept the store open, using gas generators to maintain power supply amid frequent outages. John and one of the Coles bakers worked through the night to ensure there was fresh bread to feed exhausted firefighters, police, volunteers and the local community.

He made sure meals and essentials were donated to emergency crews, nursing homes and evacuation centres as well as donating four pallets of fruit and vegetables to Mogo Zoo.

Peter Volf, the Chief Inspector of Policy for the Bega Valley Sector of the South Coast District, said: “Despite the adversity John and his team faced – fires raging around the area, no electricity, no phone service, roads in and out of the area blocked – he selflessly continued to operate his stores so that he could feed his community.’’