'Asda Lady' Hayley celebrates 10 years of supporting the Sutton in Ashfield community
Our Sutton in Ashfield store's community champion Hayley Carrington is proud to have been at the heart of her local community for the last decade – and she's so well known that she's even been recognised on holiday!
Hayley, who's been a community champion since our community programme started in 2012, has supported lots of local good causes, schools, charities and groups and really values the difference she's able to make.
She said: "I'm quite well known in the town as the Asda Lady. Everyone knows me as Hayley from Asda.
"I've been to Dublin and been recognised, and when I was in Newquay on holiday I went into the Asda and somebody came up to me and jokingly asked me where the baked beans were because they recognised me from Sutton in Ashfield! I guess it's a good sign that our customers and people from the town know who I am.
"It's a big part of the job of a community champion to get out into the local community and get stuck in with groups and to make ourselves known."
Hayley worked on checkouts at the store until the community role was advertised – and she says that as soon as she saw the job description she knew it was what she wanted to do.
"I saw the job description in the canteen and didn't know anything about it until then," said Hayley. "But as soon as I read it, I was like 'that's me!' and knew I had to get it – and I still really enjoy it now.
"I was ready for a new challenge, and the idea of getting out in the local community and fundraising really appealed.
"A lot of the people who I first helped are still active today and some of the groups are still going strong.
"I remember my first event was an Easter egg collection for the hospital, but an early activity that really sticks in my mind was volunteering for the local food bank, and also managing to get them some grants.
"You meet all sorts of wonderful people in this role, and I particularly like meeting like-minded people in community who want to make a difference."
One meeting which particularly sticks in Hayley's mind is from 2013 is when she met Prince William, who performed Asda's famous pocket tap for her, at an event in Nottingham attended by the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Hayley said: "They were so casual and friendly. They just walked into the tent and started talking to everyone. Prince William shook my hand, asked me where I worked and when I said Asda he said, 'Is that the one with the pocket tap?' and did the pocket tap himself. I didn't know what to say – I was amazed! The whole day was one of those 'pinch me' moments."
As well as the Royal Family, Hayley met sporting royalty a couple of years later when she was joined by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie at an Asda Active event in Kirkby in Ashfield.
Hayley said: "He was such a good sport, and I raced against him in relays with kids. He was lovely; so down-to-earth and he came along just because he's passionate about how important it is for kids to get out and about."
Looking back on the last decade, Hayley says she's glad to have been able to help so many good causes and to have met so many people who are striving to help others.
She said: "I'm very proud of what we've achieved. Things have been difficult during the pandemic, so I'm looking forward to getting out in the community more.
"I helped with a befriending service during the lockdowns, ringing people and talking to those who might otherwise have been isolated. Protecting people's mental health is such a big thing.
"I know some people liked staying in during the lockdowns and are now a bit nervous about going out again after all this time, but we've got to help get people's confidence back and get lots of events going so they can get together again."