Gemma's called an 'angel without wings' for shopping for vulnerable couple

May 7, 2020

Our Dagenham store's wonderful community champion Gemma Gray has been described as an "angel without wings" by a vulnerable elderly couple who've no way of getting out to do their shopping or ordering online.

Gemma Gray from Asda Dagenham

Gemma stepped in to help Brian and Veronica after 84-year-old Brian phoned the store to explain their problem. Now she takes their shopping order over the phone every week, picking items off the shelves and delivering them on her way home.

Veronica, who has an underlying heath condition, said: "I don't know what would have become of us without Gemma. She's an angel without wings.

"Gemma's in danger of becoming a lifelong personal shopper. She just instinctively knows what I would want, even down to the fact that I like the trimmed fine beans and trimmed Brussel sprouts.

"Silly little things that I've not stipulated but Gemma gets it right every time. If I ever say to Gemma this looks a very long list, she will just say don't be silly! She bends over backwards to be obliging. Brian has suddenly got the gardening bug and Gemma even got some him compost too.

"My husband's computer was hacked just before the shutdown, so much so that it had to be chucked out, so we can't get online and we've got no family locally – only friends and neighbours who are all in the same boat. We are truly isolated!"

Veronica, who's 73, has shopped at Asda for 20 years, and says Gemma's help has been invaluable.

She said: "She delivers it all to us on her way home – keeping with social distancing – and we have a chat. I cannot speak too highly of that young lady. Nothing is too much trouble. The willingness, the cheerfulness!

"She must be one of the most amazing adverts for Asda. I've always felt Asda Dagenham is run like an old family business – they are so pleasant and so willing, so lacking in grumpiness. They are all excellent, but Gemma is exceptional. I don't know what would have become of us without her.

"I cannot speak too highly of her I've told all my friends about her. She is self-effacing and very modest. When you do try to praise her she almost blushes. She is so genuine, Asda should be very proud of her."

Gemma, who's worked at the store for five years, says she's only too happy to help the couple.

"This is our community and these are our vulnerable elderly people and they need our help," said Gemma. "Each week now they just call me when they are ready and I take the list. I do their shopping with a Scan & Go gun, get the total up and call them up to let them know the total and them I drop it off.

"I always I have a chat with them, they are such a lovely couple. If you haven't got the internet in this day and day you're isolated a little bit more.

"They are always thankful. At the end of every conversation I say 'take care' but Veronica will say 'no Gemma, you take care. I'm indoors and you're out there!"

"These are the sort of people I do events for in my role as community champion. I always do a big lunch with 110 elderly residents and this year I've invited Veronica and Brian as they've never been before."

Lou Holloway, the store's people trading manager, said: "Gemma is a superstar. As a community colleague she will do her upmost and do whatever she can to help people even in her own time. Everything she can do for the community she will do. She's absolutely brilliant. Everyone loves her here in store.

"She is going in her own time to make sure this couple have what they need, which is brilliant. She's been a lifesaver to them and she even rings them on an evening to make sure that they will be alright. She will speak to both Brian and then Veronica sometimes up to an hour just to keep them company."

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