It’s all locked up at the back! (Thanks to Tony, Leah… and Jack)

Blackstock Road business is latest to be handed a post-pandemic boost from Gunners

Friday, 6th May — By Geoff Sawyer

Leah Williamson x Buckenham Locksmiths _ Arsenal Supporting Supporters 0-28 screenshot (1)

England captain Leah Williamson joins Tony Adams for the advert

A HIGHBURY locksmith is the latest independent business to be promoted by Arsenal with a visit from two of the club’s legendary centre halves.

Jack Romero, a fourth generation locksmith at Buckenham’s in Blackstock Road, said it had been “fantastic” to meet Leah Williamson and Tony Adams.

Together they created an advert that has helped boost business at the store that has been in Blackstock Road for 55 years.

The club is running a supporters scheme in recognition of the family-run firms that make up the fabric of Highbury and Holloway.

Mr Romero said: “It absolutely blew us away when the club ap­proached us to suggest we were part of the ­Supporting Supporters scheme.

“My grandad was in the shop when the people from Arsenal came in and he’s pretty old school – I think he nearly put them off as he didn’t want too much fuss.

“It was quite surreal, we just couldn’t believe all this was being done for our little locksmiths – you just don’t think this kind of thing happens to your business.”

Locksmith Jack Romero described the experience as ‘surreal’

Recalling how the business started, he said: “My great grandfather, Arty Buckenham, started the business in 1959 with just one key cutter to his name. His daughter Jen and her husband Don – my grandma and grandad – then joined the business in 1970, in time for Arsenal’s ‘double’, and they are still working there today.

“As is my mum, Helen, and – since 2012, when I joined straight from school aged 16 – me too, so it really is a family business.

“We’re all big Arsenal fans. I grew up on Gillespie Road and went to Primary School at St Johns Highbury Vale. Our PE lessons were often in the old JVC Centre at the back of the Clock End, a massive thrill for an Arsenal mad kid.”

He recalled how Pat O’Connor, who recently retired after over 50 years with the club, was a regular in the shop.

Arsenal’s involvement with Buckenhams has been a boost for a company who, like so many small businesses, have endured hard times throughout the pandemic.

Aaron Ramsdale promoting the Chip Inn

“The pandemic has been tough for us – like the majority of businesses,” said Mr Romero. “If people aren’t going out, they’re not going to lock themselves out and need a locksmith are they?”

“Seriously though, it was a really difficult time. We opened for a couple of days a week for some specialist work we could still generate but ultimately, if it hadn’t been for the furlough money, I’m not sure how we would have coped.

“Things are better now, but we seem to be moving straight into a cost of living crisis, which is going to really hit small businesses again.

“So ultimately, we’re really thankful to Arsenal to be involved in this project – it’s a dream come true to be honest.”

Mr Romero said he had been particularly pleased about the “association with Arsenal Women”, adding: “Like a lot of football fans, I didn’t follow the women’s game closely but over recent years, the fact that it’s now easier to find on TV and all over the media means I now watch the game – and Arsenal in particular of course.

“I love how we are one of the real superpowers of the game and the fact there will be 20,000 fans at the Tottenham game – including me – says it all really.”

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