When Fleur Foster was two years old doctors told her parents she might not be able to speak because of her autism – but now she's doing so well after getting a job at our Isle of Wight store that her old school invited her back to give a careers talk.
Fleur, who's 23, has worked at the store since it opened two years ago. Her colleagues, friends and family have seen her confidence soar in that time and she was invited back to St George's Special School by her proud former teachers.
She said: "I wanted to tell the pupils at the school that disability should be no barrier when it comes to getting a job. If I can do it so can they.
“Talking at the career's day was nerve-wracking at first, but I enjoyed it. I just told them about my journey from school into work, then some of them asked me questions about how I got the job and what are the best parts of the job."
Fleur, who is now very independent and makes her own way to and from work, says she loves working on the checkouts, where she can meet and talk to lots of people.
She said: “I just love putting a smile on customers' faces. Everyone at Asda – colleagues and customers – are lovely. They are so supportive. We really are one big family."
Her mum Ria Webster is delighted to see Fleur going from strength to strength with Asda.
She said: "In the past she struggled with interacting with people, but not now. Since working in Asda her confidence has really grown. When we are out and about she is always chatting to customers that she bumps into – it really is hard to believe.
“The whole family is just so proud of her. When she was two years old the consultant did not think Fleur would be able to speak because of her autism – but just look at her now.
"To get up in front of all those people at her school on her own and talk about herself was amazing. She was asked to go and did not hesitate.
"She is a very hardworking girl and so independent now and we encourage that. She was determined to get a job as she wanted to earn her own money.
"I saw the write up she did for the school newsletter and it was so eloquent. She had no help from me at all; she did it all herself."
The store's co community champion Clare Jones says colleagues are full of admiration for Fleur.
She said: “Her confidence has bloomed since she started to work here. We are so very proud of her. To go back to your school and talk to children takes some courage. For her to go and do that is amazing."
The store's people manager Paul Salter says Fleur is a "very valuable part of the team".
He said: "She is always positive, upbeat and nothing is too much trouble. Customers and colleagues all love her.
"When she started here was a bit quiet, but she has really come out of her shell. She is always saying hello and talking to people."
Marie Wells, careers lead St George's School where Fleur was head girl, said: "Fleur is a fantastic role model; her determination, hard work and passion about her job really shone through and it was lovely to see how much she has developed in confidence.
"Her advice to our students was that they should not let a disability be a barrier to working and that they can achieve so much with the right attitude, guidance and support.
"This was such a powerful message; our young people were really inspired by her, and asked lots of interesting questions about her role and the skills and qualities it requires. We are all incredibly proud of Fleur and all that she has achieved since leaving us."