Our brilliant colleague Jodie Boyd-Ward combines working at our Middleton store with playing wheelchair rugby league for England and Leeds Rhinos.

Top right picture courtesy of Sponge Beattie, bottom right picture courtesy of Mick Gill

Jodie has severe arthritis, so uses a wheelchair to play sport. She’s playing for Leeds Rhinos this weekend and has been selected for the England Wheelchair Rugby League at at the World Cup in July – and colleagues at the store couldn’t be more proud of her!

Jodie began to develop mobility problems when she was 11 and has been diagnosed with severe arthritis in her spine and nerve damage on the left hand side of her body, so she uses a wheelchair to play rugby.

She will be in action this weekend as Leeds take on Medway Dragons in a WhRL Premier League match.

Jodie, 24, said: "Everyone at Asda has been brilliant and really supportive of me and my rugby – particularly my Section Leader Claire Whittingham and General Store Manager Paul Garnett.

“Paul’s let me have time off to go to the World Cup, and my colleagues have been brilliant too. They’re covering for me in July so I’ve offered to cover some of their shifts up until then.

“I try not to let my conditions affect me massively. I’m in constant pain but I just get on with things. I shouldn’t be able to do as much as I can, but I’m stubborn and determined to prove people wrong.

“I used to dance and play netball, but my arthritis means I can’t play able bodied sport now.

“When I was about 11 I noticed that my mobility wasn’t the best. It took years for me to get a diagnosis which is severe arthritis and nerve damage. I take daily medication but there’s only so much that the medication can do. If I upped my medication it would affect my ability to lead a normal life.

“Because I don’t use a wheelchair at any other time people are often confused when I first tell them I play wheelchair rugby league. It’s fun but also very competitive and I really enjoy testing myself at a high level of sport.

“I started out playing for Wolverhampton Rhinos in 2009, then I moved to Yorkshire and got in touch with the Leeds Rhinos and asked if I could come to a training session, and it’s just gone on from there.

“I’ve been brought up on rugby league as my family enjoy it so it was the natural sport for me to have a go at.”

Picture courtesy of Mick Gill

Jodie joined the store in 2014 and works part-time on Click & Collect. She is in the final year of a law degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Asda Middleton General Store Manager Paul Garnett said: "To play at the sort of level Jodie does is a real achievement and everyone here is really proud of her.

“I’m a rugby fan and support Halifax so we often have a chat about the sport. So many people here take an interest in Jodie and her matches – it’s great.”