Colleagues at our Bodmin store rallied round when heavy snow caused chaos in Cornwall – providing bedding for students who were snowed in overnight at their college and helping paramedics when a woman went into labour in the store’s car park.
Around 400 students were stranded at Callywith College, which is next door to our store, so colleagues gave them as many pillows, duvets and blankets as they could spare.
College principal Mark Wardle said: "The snow came down really quickly, so we made the decision to keep the students here overnight as the roads were so dangerous.
"Obviously we don't plan for this sort of situation so we didn't have bedding for more than 400 children, and that's when Asda contacted us to offer their help. A few staff members and pupils went over to the store to pick the items up.
"The pupils and the staff here were absolutely thrilled with Asda's brilliant gesture, it shows great community spirit. We would have had to have used our own money to buy all these items, so that's been saved towards the childrens' education."
The blizzards left lots of motorists stranded – including a pregnant woman, Roxanne, who was on her way to hospital.
She started having contractions, so admin manager Lee Coshall and customer Jess helped her into the store and stayed with her until paramedics made it through the snow. Roxanne gave birth to a healthy baby girl in Royal Cornwall Hospital.
Welcome baby Amelia! Her mum went into labour and, without transport, they couldn’t get to @RCHTWeCare so walked to @asda #Bodmin where worker Lee & another stranded driver Jess kept mum safe during her very frequent contractions until paramedics arrived. She was born at Treliske pic.twitter.com/4kvQ3jn7DT— BBC Radio Cornwall (@BBCCornwall) February 1, 2019
Lee said: "It was a pleasure to help in any way we could. It's been a day and night we won't forget!
"Roxanne was having contractions so we took her into an office and basically reassured her while we were on the phone to the paramedics.
"The contractions then started getting quicker so we laid her down and kept talking to her.
"A customer called Jess was also there and she was brilliant in keeping Roxanne calm – it was a real team effort.
"The ambulance arrived and took her to Royal Cornwall Hospital – I believe they managed to get through the snow as they followed a gritting vehicle to the hospital.
"Roxanne's husband came back into the store this morning to thank us and told us that Roxanne had given birth to Amelia in the hospital."
A number customers took refuge in the store overnight until conditions eased. One of them, Lisa Sandercock, tweeted to thank colleagues for their help:
What a 21hrs it has been, huge thanks to @asda staff within @asdabodmin cafe (& store) for their overnight care and free hot drinks and food. Ana is a credit to Asda and deserves recognition. We even had a baby born in store!— Lisa Sandercock (@LisaSandercock) February 1, 2019
Now home...shower, cuppa and then 😴😴 #CornwallWinter pic.twitter.com/o7jWwJgk0g
Deputy store manager Bruce Small said: "It was definitely an interesting night! Some teachers from the school came in and said they had hundreds of children stuck in the school.
"The roads were so treacherous the coaches couldn't get to the college to pick them up. It became clear that they would be spending the night sleeping at the college, so we donated duvets, pillows and blankets to help them, because that's a lot of kids and it was such a cold night.
"We filled seven or eight trolleys with the duvets, pillows and blankets and the teachers and pupils came over to collect them. The college is only five minutes' walk away from the store so they managed to get them back to the college."
The college posted on Facebook to say thanks:
Conditions eased in the morning, allowing buses to reach the college to finally take the students home.
Store manager Robert Gerred-Hart said the day's dramatic events would stay with colleagues at the store for a long time.
He said: "I’m extremely proud of the community-minded spirit that our colleagues displayed as they worked quickly and compassionately to help during the cold snap. Whether it’s providing warm blankets and pillows or helping to comfort a mum-to-be, I know they will always go above and beyond. Hearing that baby Amelia arrived safe and well last night really made it all worthwhile!”