Couple's weekend family visit leads to three months working at Asda Bridgwater

June 12, 2020
Gemma Halleron at Asda Bridgwater

Gemma Halleron and her partner Aaron Harper had travelled from Lancashire to Somerset with their son Finley to spend the weekend with her parents before the lockdown started ... and three months later they're still there after they both got jobs at our Bridgwater store!

The university in Lancashire where PGCE student Gemma teaches psychology to adult learners closed due to the coronavirus outbreak and work had dried up for Aaron, a self-employed plasterer. So the couple decided to drive the 250-miles to Somerset with their two-year-old son Finley so they could spend a few days with Gemma's dad Mark, a home shopping driver for Asda, and her mum, Christine, a care home manager.

And when lockdown was announced while they were there and travel was banned, they decided to stay and do their bit to help feed the nation.

Gemma, who's 28, said: "We'd just come for a visit for the weekend and then we became stuck – but there's worse places to be stuck. The weather's better here and, of course, there's the Somerset cider! My parents have a bungalow with a bit of land on the back so we're in a caravan with a big awning. It's like a home from home!"

At the start of lockdown our Bridgwater store was looking for extra temporary colleagues to help get essential goods to our customers – and Gemma and Aaron needed work to pay the bills back in Lancashire.

Gemma said: "My dad came home and said to me that he'd spoken to one of the managers at work and me and my partner had to go in the next day for a chat. We went in and we both started working that afternoon.

"All the colleagues have been really welcoming – it's like a family unit here. I've never seen a place where the managers and team leaders all muck in together.

"Tracy on home shop has been like my picking mother and it made a massive difference to be honest when I first started.

"With us still having a home in Lancashire we've still been having to pay the bills but thankfully the rent here is pretty cheap ... well nothing!"

Aaron's working as a home shopping delivery driver, as well as helping out in the store – here he is with Finley, who's playing with his own toy Asda van.

Gemma's really grateful for the support of her parents.

She said: "My mum Christine is manager of 160-bed nursing home so it's been very difficult for her recently, so I don't know whether I've been a help or a hindrance. It's difficult at times, but we're just trying to make the best of it."

Mark, who's worked at the store for four years, joked: "It's been a very long weekend ... but seriously it's great to have them here. It's been brilliant. It's so nice to be able to see my grandson every day too. And at work, Gemma and Aaron are so well liked by everyone in the store."

Asda Bridgwater general store manager Jeremy Kinsley says the couple are a great addition to the store.

He said: "They's picked up so much since they both started in store and it's like they've always been here. They're a great part of the team."

The couple have just had their temporary contracts extended until mid-July and Gemma says the university she works at won't reopen before September.

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