Colleagues at our Swinton store were really moved when nine-year-old Calum Coghlan’s mum Angela got in touch to thank them for giving him “a purpose in life and aspirations for the future” when he visits every week.
Calum, who has autism and epilepsy, has struck up a great relationship with the colleagues, who have given him his own Asda name badge and work shirt to make him feel like part of the team.
Angela said: "Before, he thought people didn't like him. Now he's changed so much both at home and at school – he now looks forward to going to school and I feel this is down to what they're doing for him at Asda, helping him to feel important.”
Calum enjoys visiting the pizza counter to create his own pizza and likes to lend a hand on the checkouts to scan his shopping. After hearing from Angela just how much they've boosted his confidence, colleagues surprised Calum with a gift bundle, including a pizza with his name on it, his own Asda colleague T-shirt and a personalised apron.
Calum wants to work in the store when he's older – and Angela says the kindness shown by the colleagues has transformed her son.
She said: "The colleagues are amazing and Calum absolutely loves them. He'd go in every day to see them if he could, and he's already dying to work for Asda! He just loves Asda.
"They've given Calum a purpose in life and aspirations for the future. They've helped install in him a belief he is worthy, he believes in himself now.
"I simply cannot thank them enough and it is so heartwarming to see how the staff treat him. They have put a smile on his face that we haven’t seen for a long time. We are so grateful and say thank you so very much from the bottom of our hearts."
Angela, who lives with her husband Darren, Calum and his 17-year-old brother Joe, said Calum's high-functioning autism means he likes routines and can become upset and frustrated if routines change – so the way different colleagues have befriended him has really helped build his confidence.
She said: "Last summer Calum developed an obsession with pizza and Madison Greenhalgh would serve him and let him make his own pizza which was amazing.
"He likes badges and lanyards so Katie Collins made him his own name badge which he was absolutely over the moon with, and she's also shown him how to scan some customers' shopping through.
"He's really good at it – he scans the shopping and smiles to the customers and it improves his confidence. He's so friendly and chatty; he loves speaking to people and finding out about them, and each and every one of the colleagues has gone out of their way to speak to him and ask him questions."
General store manager Chris Baxter said: "When I received Angela's note I was just blown away – we all were. When I read the note out in a colleague meeting it was quite emotional, everyone was very touched.
"Calum has really struck a chord with all the colleagues here. He's just so genuinely interested in everything Asda.
"It's great that his mum is so elated by what we've done for him, and you can see his confidence increasing during his visits."
You can see more fabulous pictures of one of Calum's recent visits to the store here: