David Caldwell, who works as a general assistant at Tesco in Coleraine, has carved out a niche for himself as a produce carver extraordinaire, creating stunning displays for Harvest and Halloween.
David’s passion for creative carving started out as a one-off project but quickly spiraled into something that is so much more. It all started two years ago when Tesco was promoting healthier eating through a campaign called Produce Revelation.
“If you told me the effect it would have, I wouldn’t have believed you. Kids loved it and customers were always coming back to see what we had created. It started countless conversations between colleagues and customers about the different types of produce we used. Being involved also had a massive effect on me personally as it reawakened a creative passion that had laid dormant since I left school.”David Caldwell
Produce Revelation focused on introducing Tesco customers to different fruit and vegetables, with a particular emphasis on inspiring children to eat more fresh produce. With the encouragement of his manager, Catherine Dooey, David set up creating an in-store art display made of carved fruit and vegetables to astounding success.
He said: “If you told me the effect it would have, I wouldn’t have believed you. Kids loved it and customers were always coming back to see what we had created. It started countless conversations between colleagues and customers about the different types of produce we used. Being involved also had a massive effect on me personally as it reawakened a creative passion that had laid dormant since I left school.”
David further developed his own style and technique with his new art medium, and with the support of Catherine, the duo began to push the boundaries of what had previously been achieved with in-store displays. Word of mouth soon spread about his talent. Local churches and clubs started to ask for David’s skills in creating unique harvest displays. Asked to enter a Tesco company-wide competition for the best carving by a colleague, David won and claimed a £500 for prize for Tesco Coleraine team’s social fund.
Once David’s creative juices were flowing, Tesco encouraged him to take over other seasonal displays. After painting Christmas scenes on the store windows, further requests started to roll in from colleagues and customers alike. One customer, the mother of two sons with autism, requested a Christmas window painted with an autism superhero theme, the stunning results of which were profiled by both Autism Northern Ireland and by the Tesco UK magazine for its 12 days of Christmas feature.
David describes the experiences he’s enjoyed along the way as “amazing” with each new project unveiling talents that he forgot he had.
“I now paint murals and carve sculptures in my free time as well as for the store. I used to love art but I hadn’t been creative in years until my manager encouraged me to put her ideas in practice and mentored me to do something a little bit special – something for which I will be eternally grateful.”
Robert Mullen, Tesco Coleraine store manager said: “David is an absolute credit to the staff here at Tesco Coleraine as he goes above and beyond his work duties and this is reflected in the fact that he won the Tesco Gold Star Award for customer service last year. His talent is quite astounding and it gives us great pride to see his displays in store.”