Congratulations to the eight Asda colleagues who've been honoured by the Queen in her Birthday Honours List for their wonderful work during the coronavirus pandemic.
The colleagues – Imran Rashid Dawji, who receives an MBE, and Faisal Tuddy, Geoff Norris, Julie Cook, Karen Clarke, Lucy Mansell-Render, Sam D'Souza and Simon Lea, who all receive the British Empire Medal – work in stores across the UK, in distribution centres and our home office in Leeds.
They've been recognised for the way they've supported the most vulnerable during the pandemic, as well as for helping us maintain vital services such as pharmacy and home shopping deliveries.
Our chief executive officer and president Roger Burnley says he couldn't be more proud of them – and all our other colleagues who have done and continue to do so much for our customers during the crisis.
He said: “I cannot express how proud we all are to have eight colleagues recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. These key worker colleagues, along with thousands of others, have done an amazing job looking after customers in very difficult circumstances. I want to extend my thanks and gratitude to them all for the way in which they have risen to the challenges of the pandemic and played their vital role in feeding the nation."
Imran Rashid Dawji, pictured above, was awarded the MBE for his role in helping recruit 25,000 temporary staff across the country so our stores could ensure everyone got the food they needed during lockdown.
He said: "It was a pivotal time so we had to ensure everything was close to perfect, as we had a duty to ensure support was provided to everyone around the country.
"I would like to thank my manager and all my colleagues. Our success would not have been possible without your unwavering support and encouragement. Thank you.”
Imran's manager Samantha Buck said: "This is an incredibly proud moment for Imran, myself and the company. We worked tirelessly to ensure we hired and paid all of our colleagues correctly. Imran was fundamental in this process, often working extended hours for myself and the team. Imran is fully deserving of this fantastic award and, always working with a smile on his face, he's a real pleasure to work with."
Simon Lea, above, was honoured after he organised deliveries for local vulnerable and elderly people while he was general store manager at Asda Marple.
Simon, who now manages our Altrincham store, said: “I felt it was our duty to step up and ensure we were supporting our community when they needed us the most and in any way we could. A lot of people were relying on us. However, I couldn’t have done this without the support of my amazing colleagues who have all gone above and beyond to serve our customers in one of the most challenging times we’ve seen in retail – they make me proud every day. Thank you to everybody who has recognised both mine and my colleagues efforts – I’m truly honoured.”
Julie Cook, the community champion at our Aberdare store, was honoured after she helped local care homes and elderly and vulnerable people with their shopping, as well as dressing as the Easter Bunny to deliver Easter Eggs to local children. Just before the pandemic she also led the local community response to the devastating floods caused by Storm Dennis.
Julie, pictured above, who's worked at the store since the day it opened in 1999, said: "I can't believe it! An elderly gentleman had said he wanted to write to Asda so say thank you for helping him, so when I heard I'd got an award I assumed it was something from Asda for that. I had to read and re-read it to see this was an official honour from the Cabinet Office as I never imagined I'd be honoured like this! I was just jumping up and down when I found out, as I was so excited. I still am. I love to chat, so keeping it secret has been so difficult!
"Lockdown was difficult for so many people, so I wanted to put smiles on people's faces. I couldn't ignore anyone who was struggling just because it was lockdown, so I tried to be as normal as I could.
Our Aberdare store's manager Rea Raymond says everyone at the store is thrilled for Julie.
She said: "I'm unbelievably proud of Julie. She's an amazing person and an absolute pillar of the community. She is the face of Asda Aberdare and does so much to help so many people. She's truly inspirational.
"Julie richly deserves this honour – and I also think this is for all her colleagues too. I'm so proud of Julie, and really proud of everything that we have all done together as a team to support our local community during the last six months or so. I'm beaming with pride that Julie's got this award."
Geoff Norris, who works at our Wisbech store, was nominated for an honour after he arranged for his team to deliver to and look after vulnerable and elderly people:
Geoff, who's 53, said "There was a lot of people out there who were in need and couldn't get anything and I knew I had to do something to help. Some of them were in tears. It wasn't just me – my wife and daughter were taking phone calls, and a lot my colleagues at Asda helped too. They were fantastic.
"It's nice to get recognition, but I did not expect anything like this. As far as I'm concerned there are a lot more deserving people out there than me."
Store manager Matt Morris said: "Getting the honour is fully deserved. Geoff's got such a great buzz and energy about him that I'm not surprised that he's been honoured."
Faisal Tuddy, the superintendent pharmacist who manages the teams at our 225 pharmacies, was recognised for his leadership keeping all the pharmacies open during the pandemic.
Faisal, pictured above, said: "I feel honoured and humbled to be accepting the British Empire Medal. It’s a testament to the incredible work of all our pharmacy teams in stores and the support of my head office colleagues. They have all really pulled together to go above and beyond to look after our patients when they needed us the most. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with so many dedicated people.”
Sam D'Douza, the community champion at our Hayes store, was nominated for the work she did to ensure elderly and lonely people self-isolating on their own received regular friendship calls.
Sam, who's pictured above, has worked for Asda for 29 years. She said: "When the pandemic hit, I knew my local community needed me. Not only that but I wanted to ensure that I was supporting my colleagues and keeping up morale to enable us to continue to serve our customers. I’m really proud that I was able to play my part – whether that was supporting colleagues, providing comfort on the telephone to the most vulnerable, or organising care packages for our frontline and care workers.
"I’m not stopping there – I’m still working on new ways to keep our communities connected – but in the meantime I’d like to thank everyone at the store and in the local community for their continued support. I’m truly overwhelmed.”
There was a huge rise in demand for online deliveries this year and Karen Clarke, the e-commerce customer trading manager at our Ellesmere Port, was awarded the British Empire Medal for her role in helping the store meet the surge in demand:
Cordelia Kingsley, the store's manager, said: “We’re all very proud of Karen. She gives 200% in everything she does and always looks out for the customer. She works so hard – in fact she’s the hardest working person I’ve ever known. When she found out about this award she was quite overwhelmed – I think she thought the email was junk at first! Well done Karen!”
Lucy Mansell-Render, who works at our clothing distribution centre in Washington, was honoured in recognition of her efforts to make local care workers feel appreciated. Lucy, pictured below, invited a group of 50 key workers to the depot so she and her colleagues could say thank you, with colleagues lining up to give them a round of applause.
Jennifer Stelling, the depot's general manager, said: "Lucy has acted selflessly throughout the pandemic and is always thinking about others. The care workers who came to our depot for the socially distanced recognition were extremely touched and I am sure that in such a terrible climate Lucy gave them one memory that the team will look back on positively. Lucy is a credit to Asda and the depot that she works at and I am extremely proud that she has been given this deserved recognition.”