Happy 13th birthday to Owen Porter! He has cerebral palsy and has been in and out of hospital since he was a baby – but he loves joining his mum Tara on her weekly shopping trips to our Sutton in Ashfield store.
When Tara told the store’s community champion Hayley Carrington that Owen likes the sounds of the checkouts and would love to try scanning the shopping she arranged for him to have a go on the tills as a special birthday treat.
Hayley and her colleagues decorated the checkout with happy birthday banners and balloons and gave Owen his own Asda shirt and name badge to help make him feel part of the team.
Tara said: "Just saying thank you doesn't seem enough – it was such a lovely thing to do. It's his favourite birthday present!"
Hayley arranged the special treat for Owen after chatting to Tara on one of her regular visits to the store.
She said: "I got talking to the family, and they asked me if I could help with what they called his one wish – to have a go on an Asda checkout."
Several teachers, parents and friends from his school, Fountaindale School in Mansfield, came along, and Owen had a great time pretending to scan their shopping.
Hayley said: "Owen absolutely loved it on the checkouts, he was laughing all the time and his mum and dad were over the moon.
"He was there for over an hour. We put the till on training mode and I showed him how it all works.
"His scanning speed was amazing and he picked it up straightaway – our store manager Richard asked him if he could come back at Christmas and help us out!"
Owen needed a major operation on his intestines when he was just a few days old, and is fed through a tube. Owen, who lives with Tara, dad Jason and 15-year-old brother Ryan, uses gestures to communicate.
Tara said: "He's doing amazing – so much better than any of us dared hope, as he was so poorly as a baby. He's been in and out of hospital all of his life, and had lots of major surgeries, but he always bounces back.
"Owen loves shopping and absolutely adores coming into Asda – he's been coming in with us since he was little.
"He particularly loves the beeps and noises at the checkout, and gets quite excited by them. He likes anything that beeps or flashes.
"We shop in the store at least once a week. Everyone in the store is very nice. They always says hello to him, show him what they're doing and how things work, like the produce scanner."
Store manager Richard Jackson said everyone at the store was really happy to help Owen celebrate his birthday.
He said: "It's just lovely to make a young lad happy for his birthday, and it was a pleasure for all of the colleagues to help. They're a lovely family. Happy birthday Owen!"