Our popular colleague Russell Bryant began losing his hearing as a child and is now profoundly deaf – but thanks to his hearing dog Ben he’s been able to continue working at our Biggleswade store where he helps people shop using Scan & Go.
Russell, who’s been at the store for 12 years, said: "I want to work, and I love to help people, and Asda made this possible when they agreed for me to have Ben in store.”
Ben’s a big hit with customers, especially younger ones who love to make a fuss of him while Russell helps their parents.
Russell's had two strokes which have left him with a weakness in his right side, so he sometimes uses a frame to get around the store. He was introduced to spaniel Ben by the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People in 2011, and since then Ben has joined Russell at work, where Russell uses lip reading to understand customers and colleagues.
He said: "Asda are very good to me and I enjoy my work very much. While I'm at work Ben gives me confidence to be around people.
"Ben's extremely popular with colleagues and customers, a lot of whom have got to know him well over the years. The children especially love to make a fuss of him. Quite a few customers ask questions and are interested in what Ben does for me."
Ben, who's seven, helps Russell at home by alerting him to sounds like the doorbell, fire alarm and care line, and in the store he'd alert Russell if the fire alarm sounded.
The store's community champion Hayley Kingsbury said: "Russell and Ben are a very popular and integral part of our team, and I hope they continue working with us for many years to come. Russell is great at putting people at ease.
"Ben's main role is to be by Russell's side – Russell's a lot more confident with him close by. Ben is also a visual clue for customers to Russell's disability.
"Russell helps customers while Ben stays on his lead, so customers get any help they need and get to play with Ben too. Ben really likes the attention.
"Customers and colleagues all love Ben - the young customers in particular."
David Robson from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People said: "For deaf people like Russell a hearing dog is a real lifeline. They are a deaf person’s ears – alerting them to every day sounds, and even danger sounds like fire alarms, that they would otherwise miss. They make daily life a lot easier for deaf people and allow them to carry out tasks that hearing people often take for granted.
"Having Ben with him at work gives Russell the confidence he needs to do a great job and we’re thrilled to see Russell doing so well."
Scan & Go: Scan & Go allows customers to keep track of their spending throughout their shop, as the handset shows a running total – including all rollbacks and offers. We've recently rolled out Scan & Go into our 100th store in Benton. Find out more about it, and which stores it's available in, here.