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‘Community Focus’ champion shortlisted for award

Published 5th September, 2023 by Neil Nixon

Debbie Walker (right) with staff member Yuliia, a refugee from the conflict in Ukraine.
Debbie Walker (right) with staff member Yuliia, a refugee from the conflict in Ukraine.

Croydon-based businesswoman Debbie Walker, owner of Merry Maids of Croydon, has made it to the finals of the 2023 BFA HSBC British Franchise Awards.

Founded in 1977, the British Franchise Association (BFA) is a self-regulating governing body, formed to accredit and promote franchise systems that meet strict ethical and business criteria.

Fighting for her position amongst many other entrants, Debbie Walker is a finalist in the ‘Community Focus’ category. Debbie bought her franchise in 2003 after working in sales and marketing for several companies. The franchise, Merry Maids of Croydon, provides professional home cleaning services through a team of dedicated maids. It offers a range of cleaning services, from one-off deep cleans to regular visits to give customers the time back to do what matters most to them, not the cleaning. Merry Maids of Croydon is service-oriented, but their work has a keen care element. They see many customers regularly, often going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that they are safe, and well, and have someone to talk to, allowing the maids to develop strong relationships with many. As such, Debbie and her team are deeply enmeshed in their local community and often work to support vulnerable people like those living with dementia.

To Merry Maids of Croydon, bettering a customer’s quality of life involves more than just a clean environment. Even though the business is not a care franchise, per se, Debbie is proud to run a business that cares. One that she calls a business with a heart.

In the past year, she has taken on a Ukrainian refugee to enable her to stay in the UK, donated enough material during a food bank drive to feed multiple vulnerable families struggling with the cost of living over and beyond the Christmas period, and been paramount in the development of the ongoing nationwide Merry Maids Forget Me Knot Challenge, which has raised over £1300 for Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friends in just six weeks.

Debbie Walker said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be alongside some other great franchisees as a finalist for the Community Focus award. We work hard every day to make our business count in the local community and give back to the people who we serve, so this recognition means a great deal to us. Everyone here is so excited for the event and really looking forward to celebrating with all the other finalists soon!”

Pip Wilkins, Chief Executive of the BFA said: “We would like to offer our enormous congratulations to all this year’s finalists. We received a huge amount of entries, and it was wonderful to read of all the amazing work being done in the UK franchising sector. We applaud our finalists for their enthusiasm, dedication and tenacity and for continuing to uphold the highest standards of the association.”

UK Head of Franchise, Commercial Banking, at sponsor HSBC Bank, Gillian Morris, said: “Shortlisting candidates for the HSBC bfa Awards is one of the toughest challenges of the year, once more the candidates were a very high standard, and it was very tough to shortlist just a few entries. I was really impressed at the diversity of entries across brands and sectors, which is a great testament of the strength and reach of the franchise industry. I am looking forward to meeting the finalists and wish them all luck!”

Winners will be announced at a gala event following the BFA’s annual conference on 9 November 2023.

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