When four-year-old Louis Byrne was getting tired and upset after a long shopping trip which ended with a visit to Asda Kilkeel our colleague Joanne Rae invited him up to her checkout to help scan the shopping and turned things around so quickly that when the family left the store Louis give her a high five.
His mum Megan posted on Facebook to thank Joanne for her "brilliant customer service" and kindness towards Louis, who's autistic. She says he'd had enough and was refusing to walk anymore, lying down in the middle of an aisle. Megan, husband Christopher and seven-year-old twins Ethan and Daragh were heading for the self-checkouts so they could get Louis home as quickly as possible when Joanne spotted them and opened up another till for them.
Megan said: "A lovely member of staff came over and said "come on ahead, I’ll open this till down here." And as soon as we got down to the till she said to me "sit him up here (the bagging area) and he can help me." Louis had a great time bagging the items and she even let him scan items and was showing him all the buttons on the till and sure those who know my wee man can just imagine his face when he saw the numbers. 🥰🥰🥰
"I didn't get the lady’s name but just thought her brilliant customer service and understanding needed to be recognised and appreciated. Any parent who has been in this situation will know what this means, especially a parent with an autistic child. It was nice to have a stranger be kind and understanding."
Her post got a great response, with comments like these:
"Class man!!! This did my heart good reading this xxx"
"This just makes my day . Fair play to the lovely lady at the check out ❤️"
"What a kind lovely person. She deserves a medal megan louis looks so happy"
"Staff in Asda in Kilkeel are brilliant"
"That was so nice and thoughtful of the lady makes shopping a little easier for all"
"Love when you get great customer service, and this lady sounds great. Lou Lou in his element, Asda an employee that deserves recognition for her great customer service"
"The staff in Kilkeel Asda are very good and friendly. Well done"
"Aww this is absolutely fabulous Megan, well done to the staff member making ur shopping trip a wee bit easier for uz"
"Absolutely brilliant Megan well done Louis delighted you ended with a fantastic experience what a lovely staff member 😊"
Lots of people recognised Joanne as the colleague who helped Louis, and tagged her in the post. She replied to Megan, saying: "Ah this is lovely 😊 lovely wee man can help me any time x".
Joanne, who's worked at the store for 11 years, says that helping Megan and Louis just came naturally.
She said: "I was amazed to see the post and hadn't expected anything like that. I always just try my best for customers, so I was really, really surprised to see how much it meant to Megan. They were such kind words from her and it's lovely to be recognised for doing something good.
"I was just tidying up and had seen the family heading for the self-scan and could tell the boy was upset so I offered to open a till for them. I could see it was difficult for the mummy so I set him up at the till with me. I was talking to him and showing him things and he responded really well to that. Apparently he loves numbers, so I gave him the receipt and he was excited with that. After we'd finished he gave me a high five.
"I would do the same for anyone – whenever the kids are happy the parents enjoy shopping much more, so it benefits everybody. If you see someone is stressed or needs help you will try to make life a bit easier for them however you can. We've always been trained to keep an eye out for things like this."
Megan, who lives about six miles away in Warrenpoint, says she was really moved by the kindness shown by Joanne to Louis and her family.
She said: "It means so much to think people like Joanne are so understanding and it makes it even nicer that was just being herself and didn't think she was doing anything special.
"We had been to the park and then to a different shop, so by the time we got to Asda Louis wasn't at his happiest. People who don't understand autism would have thought he was a bored child throwing a tantrum, but that's not the case. He's non-verbal, so can't tell us when something's wrong."
Joanne works part time at Asda, and for the last two years has also helped with the discharge of patients from hospitals. She's now just started as a care assistant with the local NHS trust.
Asda Kilkeel store manager Adelaide Hanna said: "Joanne is so natural and this sort of kindness is just how she is all the time. She's so caring and so good with customers – particularly with older customers and customers with children. She always looks out and spots people who need help.
"Everyone here thinks she's amazing, and that it's so nice of Megan to take the time to post on Facebook about Joanne's kindness. So many people focus on the negative these days so it really means a lot to see her post – and the fantastic comments underneath it."