Nigel defied the odds as a youngster – now he's celebrating 26 years with Asda
When he was a toddler doctors told Nigel Fiddes' family that it was unlikely he'd ever walk and at the age of seven he had such a severe epileptic seizure that they were prepared for the worst – but he's defied all the odds to become an integral part of the team at our Peterborough store.
Fifty-year-old Nigel, who has learning disabilities, has just celebrated 26 years of service at Asda and is proud of his achievement and loves his work just as much as he did when he first started in 1995.
Nigel started on trolley collections before moving on to shelf stacking and he's now a valuable part of the night shift team.
He said: "It's really good working for Asda. I love my job and I'm really happy here. The colleagues and the managers here are really good. I started on trolleys and now I'm on nights. I sometimes help on the freezers – but I'll do anything really. I'm always hardworking!"
The store's support manager John Hill, who has known Nigel for 17 years, said: "He's always been a great colleague. He's very reliable and very dependable and he always gives his all.
"He's very passionate about working here and doing the best that he can. He's always very friendly and easy to get on with. Over the years he's come out of his shell a lot and his confidence has really improved."
And the store's community champion Diane Munns, who's worked alongside Nigel for 23 years, said: "Nigel's such a lovely guy. He really has a heart of gold. He will do anything that you ask him to do."
Nigel initially started with Asda through Westcombe Industries, which found placements for people with learning disabilities, and the store managers were so impressed with him that they took him on full time.
Nigel's mum Cath McMurray said: "I feel so very proud of Nigel. I never believed that he would ever get a job when he was younger. I thought he was always going to be classed as disabled and go to a day centre and that would be it. I was so delighted when he got this job in Asda – it was just phenomenal. And here we are 26 years on – I feel so very, very proud of him.
"Nigel likes to give everything a go. He does his job thoroughly and just gets on with it – he absolutely loves his job. He's there early and doesn't have any problems with staying on if he's asked to. He's a worker and I've never heard anyone say a bad word about him.
"I have to thank Asda for the opportunities they give to individuals like Nigel. They have supported Nigel in everything he's done. One of the main people who have supported him and me over the years is Diane and I can't thank her enough. That lady has been phenomenal."
Cath said that as when Nigel was a child she was told by a doctor at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary that there was very little hope that Nigel would ever walk.
She said: "At about 18 months he was not developing as others his age, and not reaching normal milestones. He wasn't showing any signs of crawling or anything. He had no strength in his legs and they said there was very little hope of him walking – but he went to run half marathons!
"I had one of those toddle trucks with the bricks in and I spent my days propping him up against a wall, toddle truck in front of him, and encouraging him to walk to it."
Nigel was about seven when he developed epilepsy and he's been on medication ever since.
Cath said: "We almost lost him. He just wasn't coming out of his seizure. He was taken from Berwick Hospital to Edinburgh and we were told that they didn't think he'd come out of it. And he did because he's a fighter, and he's been a fighter all his life."
In the 1990s Nigel was a keen athlete, and a member of the Special Olympics, running the 400m, 800m and the relay. He competed for the England team in Strathclyde in 1991, but unfortunately a foot injury eventually resulted in him retiring from sport.
Outside of work Nigel, who lives with his mum and stepdad Norman McMurray in Peterborough, likes to watch his beloved Peterborough United.
Cath said: "Nigel takes the responsibility of cleaning up and keeping the outside of our own property as well as the next door neighbours, who are elderly. He is a very helpful and thoughtful individual; always willing to help others. Asda has undoubtedly enhanced Nigel's confidence, so thank you Asda."