Tributes have been pouring in for Malcolm Leadbitter, 69, known to all as Mac, who is the owner of Marlborough’s prize winning Mace Store on Baylie Acre and who is retiring on May 12. Mac took over the shop fourteen years ago, after retiring from his position as a major in the army. In 2017 the shop was awarded the Most Improved Store Award in Costcutter’s National Awards.
Locals who refer to the shop as ‘the top shop’, due not only to its position in the town but to the ‘top’ service they receive, are devastated that due to the current restrictions they will not be able to show Mac their appreciation for all he has done for the community by giving him the send-off and thanks he deserves.
Charlie, a loyal customer, told Marlborough.news, “Mac is a great guy, if there was something that he sold in the shop, and you were unable to get it he always made sure he would do his utmost to try and get it for you. He would go above and beyond to help anyone. It is such a shame that we are not able to say goodbye to Mac properly because of the lockdown we are in at the moment.”
Marlborough.news has received many tributes to Mac’s care and service to the community. Clearing the snow on the pavements in the area so customers can get safely to the shop, taking large bags of dog food round to an elderly lady’s house, helping people struggling to get their shopping to the car, assisting people with filling in unfamiliar forms are just some of the caring actions he has carried out.
When food stocks were low in the current crisis, Mac didn’t wait for deliveries but went himself to the local cash and carry and filled his car with supplies, sometimes twice a day. He quickly ensured his customers and staff were safe by installing protection in the shop. His calming influence has been appreciated by the elderly and young alike.
Miranda, another customer, told Marlborough.news, “We’ve lived in Marlborough just over 2 years and in that time we’ve used the Mace shop often. We struggle with shopping and loud shops due to my son having autism.
Every time we go into the shop Mac allows my son to stand behind the till and help, while I grab the shopping items I need, which helps me and of course my son who leaves the shop smiling from ear to ear every time.
Mac always makes us feel welcome, always asks how we are, how the boys are and all round will help with anything he can, I for one will be very sad to see him leave and I know for sure my two sons will be sad to see him go too .”
Mac knows most of his customers by name and during lockdown he has missed being able to shake people’s hands or high five his younger customers.
Mac’s daughter, Kelly commented, “Many people have told me they’d like to give my dad a cuddle goodbye and can’t do so.
His staff are so sad he’s leaving and he would only sell the shop with the condition the staff were kept on. He’s always thinking of others, not himself. Everyone knows they can go to Mac for help or advice as he is so respected.”
Anita who works in the shop said, “I’ve worked for Mac and Bridgette at the Mace Shop for 12 years now they are lovely people to work for, always support their staff and have great community spirit. Mac always went out of his way to help the locals whether it be just dropping bits round to them if unwell, or a few years back he organised Christmas discos for families and children in Marlborough. I’m sure a lot of people will agree that they will be greatly missed.”
Frankie, Ted and Doris commented, “With Mac retiring we just want to say thank you for being so kind and lovely. You will be missed with your smile behind the counter in the shop.”
Mac and his wife Bridgette are retiring to Oxfordshire to be nearer to Kelly and her family who run The Kings Arms, an award winning pub, in Wantage.
Kelly explained, “I just feel they don’t make men like my dad anymore. He is going to be a huge loss to Marlborough and he is going to miss the community that he loves – but it’s time for him to enjoy some retirement.
I’m sure he will enjoy a well- earned pint of ale in our pub once we come out of lock down. He has already got his own glass with his name on it hanging on the wall waiting to be used. And I might try to get him behind the bar pulling pints if he gets too bored. It would be lovely to have him working with me again.”