From childhood Joe Wastell has had to overcome the odds, fighting illness that left him with learning difficulties and unable to walk, talk, read or write for a year.

But he’s gone from strength to strength since getting a job as a porter at our Chatham store three years ago, and he’s hugely popular with colleagues and customers.

Joe, who’s 24, goes above and beyond to help shoppers – and does lots of fantastic charity and community work, including setting up a disability support group.

His mum Pauline said: "He tried for all sorts of jobs and was absolutely delighted to get the job at Asda, and we were delighted for him. It's helped his confidence and we're incredibly proud of him. He's got such heart and compassion – he's got so much to give."

Joe's role at Asda is his first full time job and he says it's boosted his confidence, as well as giving him the skills to help others.

He said: "This is the only job I've ever had, and I was definitely grateful to be given the chance by Asda. Everyone is really helpful and friendly, and the job has helped my confidence.

"The best parts of my job are meeting new people and helping customers.

"I recently started Disability Medway Network on Facebook. The aim is to give people with disabilities a bigger voice within society. We recently held our first meet and greet event where people could talk about their experiences with disabilities, and also meet organisations who can offer support.

"I've also been involved in all sorts of charity and community projects. In January, I spent a night on the streets as part of 'the big sleep out' to raise money for Porchlight, a local homeless charity. I'm studying an Open University course in social sciences, and I'm hoping to do a counselling course in the future too."

Joe contracted chicken pox when he was five, leading to a rare complication – a brain inflammation called encephalitis.

Pauline said: "He lost everything – his speech, his memory, the ability to walk. He's always been a really bright lad, and he gradually learned to walk, read and write again, although he was left with a deficit in his learning.

"He loves his job. He enjoys helping people put their shopping in the boot, especially if they're elderly, and is really popular with everyone.

"We're incredibly proud of him. He's had a lot go on in his life with his health, but he's never complained once.

"Joe has always been so determined to work. He's really making an impact in the community, encouraging other people in all sorts of ways."

Caroline Miles, who's a service host for self scan at the store, said: "Joe is a fantastic, outstanding colleague who goes above and beyond and will help anyone with anything.

"He goes out into the community a lot through his support groups, setting up meetings and functions. He's a star."

The store's community champion Leonie Samways said: "Joe always has a smile and a helpful attitude to make our customers' experience that little bit better.

"He does so much out in the community – he's involved with the Scout movement, he's walked Hadrian's Wall and helped to lead an expedition to the Three Peaks, as well as raising money for a homeless charity.

"Joe's one of our hidden aces and everyone here at Asda Chatham is extremely proud of him."