Berkhamsted nanny recognised as community hero in PizzaExpress Share A Smile initiative
Naomi was named one of thirteen winning individuals nationwide
A Berkhamsted nanny has been recognised as part of a nationwide campaign to identify and celebrate individuals who have gone above and beyond to help people in their communities throughout 2020
The national Share A Smile initiative, by PizzaExpress, called on members of the public to nominate community heroes.
Following thousands of deserving entries from people across the country, Naomi McLaren, who was nominated by best friend, Sandra Emery, is one of thirteen people across the country being celebrated.
PizzaExpress helped Sandra to surprise her with an unforgettable trip to Sydney, as well as £1,000 – a year’s worth of pizza – as a small ‘thank you’ for all of her generous acts of kindness throughout the pandemic.
Naomi was given the surprise-of-a-lifetime whilst out for lunch with Sandra and her 15-month-old son, Nikolas.
Prior to their walk to the restaurant, PizzaExpress and Sandra had arranged for a billboard on the route to display pictures and videos of Australia; a teaser for what was to come.
Little did Naomi know, that along with her meal, the waiter would surprise her with her grand prize, as confetti cannons went off around her table.
Best friends for over ten years, Naomi is like a ‘second Mum’ to Sandra’s 15-month-old son, Nikolas, and the pair have been there for each other through thick and thin, whenever either of them needed support or a shoulder to lean on.
In the midst of lockdown this bond was made even stronger, when Sandra’s Dad unfortunately passed away, and she struggled to pick herself up following his death.
Having been by Sandra’s side throughout the course of her father’s illness, stepping in to look after her son and driving her to and from the hospital whenever it was needed, Naomi dropped everything to be there for Sandra - even moving into Sandra’s one-bed flat in Berkhamsted to care for her whilst she recovered from losing her Dad.
From doing the day-to-day shopping for Sandra’s family and keeping on top of household chores, to creating special memories by arranging picnics, walks and BBQs that helped Sandra take her mind off things and get out to enjoy fresh air sunshine, Naomi truly went above and beyond and was there for Sandra when it really mattered.
This is just one example of how the pair have been there for each other throughout the years.
Originally meeting when they worked together in a creche in 2008, Naomi and Sandra have been inseparable since.
An extrovert by nature, Naomi is known for pushing Sandra out of her comfort zone, encouraging her to get the best out of life, and to do things she wouldn’t usually do.
All of this is why Sandra nominated her, leading to the surprise of a lifetime when, with the help of PizzaExpress, she was able to say thank you with a trip to Australia - as soon as it’s possible to travel there.
Sandra said: “After everything that’s happened this year, knowing that I could totally rely on Naomi to be there for me was a massive comfort – but she really went above and beyond anything I could ever have asked for, moving in and helping to look after my son, giving me the chance to get through it all without having to juggle day-to-day life at the same time.
"For that I am truly grateful. It was such a thrill to be able to surprise her like we did; she couldn’t believe it – and we can’t wait to visit Australia together as soon as we can travel there!”
Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, added: “We’d like to congratulate Naomi for being one of our Share A Smile winners, and thank Sandra for helping us recognise all that she’s done throughout this challenging year.
"If there’s one thing we think everyone will take from 2020, it’s that the little things count, and Naomi’s dedication to doing everything she could to help Sandra when she needed it most, is a testament to that. We are delighted to help her take her dream trip to Australia!”
“Impromptu meals out with friends, time spent with loved ones, and the small everyday acts of kindness are what make a huge difference, and we join the nation in hoping that the pandemic will be manageably under control as soon as possible, so that people can get on and enjoy life together again.”