Our much-loved porter Alan Mansfield is such a popular figure at our Belvedere store that colleagues and customers pulled out all the stops to wish him a very happy 80th birthday.
They surprised great-grandad Alan with gifts, cards, balloons and flowers on an emotional day – all organised by the store's community champion Zoe Harper.
Alan lives with his wife Ellen and the couple will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary later this year. They have four children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
He said: "I had no idea they were planning something for my birthday, so it was a complete surprise. I couldn't believe it – I was overwhelmed and I'll never forget it.
"I was working in the car park that morning and Zoe said she wanted to speak to me for a minute inside the store. I went in and saw all the balloons and I was amazed. Zoe organised it all – she's an absolute diamond.
"When a customer's little daughter gave me a birthday card I just broke down – it was such a lovely thing to do."
Mayor of Bexley Brian Bishop called in at the store to wish Alan a happy birthday:
Alan said: "The best three things about being a porter are fresh air, exercise and talking to people. You get to know people and they become familiar faces.
"I used to be a dustman and a bus conductor. I like working – all of the jobs I've had are customer related. Look after the customers and the customers will look after you – without the customers you ain't got a job. I've got no plans to stop working at all."
Store manager Candy Weston said: "Alan is absolutely loved by everyone in the store – colleagues and customers alike. This was shown on his birthday when a customer's little daughter came up to him to wish him happy birthday and give him a card.
"There were tears from Alan, colleagues and even customers too – it was quite an emotional day all round.
"Alan was overwhelmed but very happy too. I think he realises how much he's appreciated.
"He's out in all weathers as a porter but never complains. Nothing is too much trouble for him, which considering he's 80 is fantastic. He's so positive and friendly and talks to everyone – he's just an amazing guy all-round."