Home delivery driver Geoff Norris from our Wisbech store found himself in a predicament after receiving an invitation of a lifetime – to attend the King’s coronation at Westminster Abbey.
But Geoff soon realised that the date clashed with another once-in-a-lifetime occasion – a family holiday in Greece where he will be the best man at his 29-year-old son Anthony's wedding to fiancee Laura.
Geoff said: “When I received the invitation from the Cabinet Office I felt very, very proud and very, very honoured.
“I obviously accepted straight away, but the panic set in as soon as I realised I was going to be out of the country, but I had to be at both occasions. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to be at the Coronation of King Charles III and I certainly couldn’t miss my son’s wedding.”
Geoff was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2020 for his work during the pandemic. He arranged for his team to deliver food and essentials and to look after vulnerable and elderly people in his community, and even organised a surprise 90th birthday treat for an elderly customer who was self-isolating on her own on her big day. He also got his wife, Vanessa, and daughter, Anna, involved and they also helped with the orders.
The family fly to Kos in early May to enjoy a family holiday around the wedding, which is taking place on May 10. As the coronation takes place on Saturday May 6, Geoff initially approached TUI with whom the holiday is booked to see if he could come back for it.
He said: “The TUI website said it was going to cost £1,000 to make any changes. But I phoned and explained my situation, which they treated as ‘exceptional circumstances’.
“I have to say, their staff went above and beyond to try and help, but unfortunately the scenarios offered didn’t quite accommodate what I needed.
“So a friend’s son, Jason Duke, who is a British Airways pilot, sorted flights that work perfectly, paid for out of his own pocket, which is very generous of him.
“I can now be at both events, which means the world to me.
"Anthony is as made up as I am that I've been invited and is totally understanding of the disruption. He's in the Royal Signals so ultimately it's his boss's coronation!.
He added: “I want to publicly thank everyone, and the companies involved, for all their help, kindness and generosity.
“During the pandemic, we only ever set out to help the elderly or vulnerable. Three years later, it is going to be an honour to represent my colleagues, customers and the community at such a memorable occasion.”
Two thousand people have been invited to attend the coronation and among them are 400 British Empire Medal recipients, three of which are Asda Colleagues including Geoff, Jo ScottCommunity Champion from Pwllheli and Julie Cook Asda Community Champion from Aberdare.
Geoff will be sitting alongside The Royal Family, The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other international leaders for the occasion.
In addition, Geoff was instrumental in his support of getting Asda's Happy to Chat campaign up and running which gives Asda delivery drivers the option of wearing a ‘Happy to Chat’ badge to let customers who may otherwise be lonely or isolated know they have time for them.