Mandy and Gary Robinson shop at our St Leonards-on-Sea store every week and have struck up a great relationship with our colleagues who take them round, point out special offers and new products, and help them with recipes and cooking tips.
Mandy has been blind since birth and Gary lost his eyesight in his twenties because of a retinal detachment.
Mandy said: “They’re like a little community store – it's the enthusiasm and willingness to help. The customer service is wonderful.
"We first came to the store in 2012 and it's been absolutely marvellous – they help us during every part of the shop."
Lorna Dyson – second from left in the picture above – usually takes Mandy or Gary round the store. She said: "They're an inspiring couple – great fun and very outgoing. They go out to restaurants, shows, they go to the gym and go walking. They're amazing."
Mandy, who's 53, has been married to Gary, 64, for 17 years. They live in the town with their guide dogs PJ and Opal – Mandy works as an audio typist and Gary is a retired IT manager.
Mandy said: "After we'd been coming to the store for a few weeks I met Lorna. We got on well – we have similar interests and friend groups. She took me round a few times then asked if I would be happy to go round every Saturday with her and I said yes.
"So every Saturday we bring in our shopping list, and as well as our usual shopping Lorna points out new products and offers, so we can get the best value on certain things.
"If I'm not sure about the cooking instructions on a product, I'll ask Lorna. I have a voice recorder with me so I've got a note of how to prepare it when I get home.
"At the checkout Lorna puts everything through the till and bags it up, then Lorna and Cassie Abley help carry it to a taxi.
"If we don't come in for some reason, Lorna rings us up and checks if we're ok and if we need any help.
"When she's away, or if we go in when she's not there, other people step in to help us. Zack Partridge on the fish counter is so helpful – he can't do enough. He knows what we want and gets it ready for us every week. Last year he sent us a lovely braille Christmas card.
"The last time Lorna was away, she wrote down our shopping list and passed it to Cassie. I don't know how she remembered it because I can hardly remember my own shopping list! Barbara Stace is also wonderful, as is the general store manager Darren Evans – but all the team are helpful.
"We walk about 2km to the store every Saturday, do the shop then get a taxi back.
"Our oven has got braille on it and we've got to know what each button does on the microwave. You use your other senses too – you develop different ways of coping with things. You just have to think about things a bit more, take notes and then you can refer back."
Gary said: "Being a blind person, you wouldn't be aware of new products or offers unless people tell you about them and they're very good with that.
"In every shop you go straight up to customer services for their help. Sometimes you go in places and you feel there's a lack of enthusiasm to help you. The colleagues at this store are friendly, cheerful, efficient and professional."
Lorna, who's 59, has worked at the store since it opened in 2010. She said: "It all started one day when I was asked if I wanted to help out with an assisted shop. I met Mandy, we got on immediately and struck up a friendship.
"Sometimes Mandy and Gary come in together although normally it's one or the other. I more or less know their shopping list off by heart now so I meet them at customer services and do their shop with them. We always have a laugh.
"As we approach the till I ring a taxi for them, put the shopping though the checkout, and colleagues carry the shopping to the taxi. I just think of it as doing my job."
Top photo: From left to right Barbara, Lorna, Darren, Mandy, Zack, Gary, Cassie, and Community Champion Wendy Border
Second photo: Lorna and Mandy
Third photo: Lorna, Mandy and Zack
Fourth photo: Barbara and Gary.