Former Leeds United player turned newsagent providing delivery service during Covid

Former Leeds United player Neil Parker and his wife Debra have been delivering the news to their customers in Beeston for more than three decades.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 6:00 am
Debra and Neil Parker of N & D Parker Newsagents, Beeston, Leeds.

Photo: Gary Longbottom
Debra and Neil Parker of N & D Parker Newsagents, Beeston, Leeds. Photo: Gary Longbottom

A serious knee injury ended Neil's football career early and the couple bought a newsagents on Cross Flatts Grove in 1983.

The couple sold the shop in 1991, but bought it back six years later after realising they had made a mistake.

"We missed the customers and having a laugh and a bit of banter with them," said Neil.

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Debra and Neil Parker of N & D Parker Newsagents, Beeston, Leeds. Photo: Gary Longbottom

Neil, 63, and Debra, 59, have been running N & D Parker Newsagents ever since and both help deliver the papers every morning.

Neil said: "It is a way of life now, we have done it for that long. We have to get up at 3.30am, but you get used to it."

They deliver around 150 papers - including around 90 copies of the Yorkshire Evening Post - each day.

Debra said more than 20 new customers signed up for home deliveries at the start of the first Covid lockdown in 2020.

She said new home delivery customers who live on the route would be welcomed.

Debra said: “People really appreciate the home delivery service.

"People get their papers early and don't have to come out in all weathers.

"We only charged £1 a week delivery, even if you get a paper seven days a week."

Streets in Cross in Cross Flatts area the Parkers deliver to include the Daltons, Cardinals, Waincliffes and Marsdens.

The couple, who got married in 1979, met in Cross Flatts Park in the mid 1970s when Neil - from Blackburn - was staying in digs in Beeston

Neil joined Leeds as an apprentice in June 1974 and signed as a professional in October 1975.

He made one first team appearance as a substitute at left back in the Leeds v Liverpool fixture in March 1978.

Neil, who regularly played for Leeds United reserves in the Central League, went to Scarborough on a free-transfer in July 1981 and later had a brief spell playing at Harrogate Railway.

The couple's daughter Bryony, 30, played for Leeds United Ladies when she was a teenager.

Bryony went to America when she was 18 to play college football in Massachusetts.

She suffered a career ending knee injury aged 19 and now works as an educational psychologist for Springfield public schools.

Debra also works part time for the NHS as a receptionist and administrator at Oakley Medical Practice in Beeston.

Home delivery of newspapers courtesy of newsagents across Leeds continues to be an important service during the pandemic.

The YEP has always had readers that have been unable to leave their homes for whatever reason, but with many more people being forced to stay home that number has increased dramatically over the last 12 months.

Simon Hackett, YEP content sales support manager, said: "This has led to the home delivery service becoming a lifeline for many customers.

"I would like to recognise the amount of time and effort that newsagents have put in to ensuring that the Yorkshire Evening Post has been delivered, day in day out, in the most trying of circumstances.

"It is only with their help that we have been able to keep some of our most vulnerable readers informed over the last year."