As we celebrate Father's Day, our Plymouth store's community champion Johnny Lamas wanted to give a big shout out to security colleague Paul and deputy manager Lee who are like father figures to many at our store.
Johnny said: "I don’t know how to begin praising our colleague Paul. He works as a security colleague here and he's also a carer for his wife, a father and also a Falkland's War veteran. He's a great support for us both inside and outside the store.
"He has a golden heart. He takes care and supports everyone at the store – even when he's off duty. He's a happy chap, who always has a nice comforting word or advice for everyone. He's unique, but every store should have more than one Paul!"
Johnny asked Paul about what it is like to be a father working at Asda and here's what he said: "It's like being with an extended family. Although I have four adult boys and they all have respectable jobs for which I am proud they try and keep in touch, but unfortunately with what has been going on they have not been able to visit.
"The colleagues have all been fantastic. I have listened to many of their problems as any father would for their children. I feel respected that they feel they can trust me. I like to give what little comfort and advice I can during this time. As I have said, Asda is one big family and we are all in this together.
"I am one of the many unpaid carers in this country that look after their loved ones and still work to ensure a comfortable lifestyle. My wife, Cee, suffers with COPD, has had major heart problems with cardiomyopathy and afibrillation, so she cannot get around as much as she would like.
"Whenever we go anywhere, I always make sure she is comfortable and with all her medications, etc.
"I do have to admit that I spoil her and forever get told off for buying new clothes for her before asking if she needs anything. We have been married 40 years and had intended celebrating our ruby wedding on a cruise, but with the pandemic that will have to wait, maybe keep it for our golden instead.
"I was in Royal Navy from 1972 and I was involved in the Falklands War where I was on board HMS Arrow, fighting the fires and helping evacuate the crew of HMS Sheffield after she was hit by an Exocet missile. We were told to stand off and rescue the crew from the sea, but instead tied up alongside so we could help the crew jump across onto our ship.
"If I had stayed in the Navy I was going to change my occupation to Family Welfare, but there wasn't a position available, so I left and became a member of the Ministry of Defence Police, where I remained until I joined team Asda seven years ago.”
Johnny says that when the store undertook a survey to choose "Our Best Dads", there was no surprise when Lee's name kept cropping up.
Johnny said: "This wonderful dad, who's our deputy manager, takes care of all of us at the store, but I have to say, Lee is a man of few words and very reserved, so I was surprised when I got the following personal and moving story of his home and work life:
"I have been a single father to my kids for six years now. Lydia who is 16 and has many difficulties including autism, global development delay, and very complex personal needs. She operates at a mental age of around eight according to recent appointments. I also have a son, Xander, who has epilepsy and his own ADHD and autistic tendencies.
"My life with my two kids is great. It's very challenging, but also very rewarding when they make the smallest of steps in life.
"I balance my work with seeing them as much as I can. Even in my Asda life I feel that I've been a father figure and support to so many of our colleagues. The amount of times colleagues have confided in me looking for advice or just a shoulder to help support them in what they are facing.
"As a manager I know that I have helped a lot of people over the years from their own testimonials. They have said that I have helped them to stay on track look at the world around them so that they can rationalise what's going on. I feel proud of my commitment to my kids, but also equally proud of the lives I have affected and hopefully helped through my work. It's humbling to see people nominating me."
Johnny said: "We at Asda Plymouth feel very honoured and proud to have Lee in our store!"
Happy Father's Day to them both, and to dads everywhere.