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Meet the inspirational brother and sister who've worked at Asda for more than 30 years

January 10, 2020 01:08 PM

Inspirational brother and sister Stephen Flack and Janet Spurgeon have both been putting smiles on customers' faces at our South Woodham Ferrers store for the last 30 years.

Janet, who has achondroplasia – a form of short-limbed dwarfism – returned to work after eight weeks in hospital with complications after breaking her ankle. She says she loves working with her big brother Stephen.

She said: "We're two of a kind – the only difference is he's tall and I'm little. I love working here and couldn't imagine being anywhere else."

Stephen, who works in the store's warehouse, said: "I'm really, really proud of Janet – she's an inspiration. Everyone here loves her. She has so many friends here and the store really looks after her. She's always got a smile on her face and has her regular customers who will only go to her till.

"I do try to look after her as best I can but she is always quick to point out that I'm the younger brother and she's the oldest!"

Janet began working at the store 31 years ago, starting as a cleaner before working in the cafe for 20 years. For the last three years she's worked on the checkouts.

"I love chatting to customers and being friendly," said Janet. "I see the same faces and there are lots of people who know me by name – they always queue up to be on my checkout. I feel good when I've been to work – they're nice customers.

"It's about making the effort to chat to people, to take the time to know them and to be interested in them. My philosophy is to be good, be happy, and live life to the full.

"It's good working with my brother – he always looks out for me and drops me off after work if we finish at the same time. It was the same when we were growing up. As a child I was never bullied because I had my big brother there to look after me."

One of her regular customers, Julia Barnard, pictured here with Janet, said: "She's lovely – so friendly. She's so full of life and she copes with her disability exceptionally well. I don't see her size – I see a wonderful person. She's got a genuine interest in people – you can tell that in everything she does."

Janet, who's 4ft 2, broke her ankle falling off a bike in 2018, but stayed in hospital for eight weeks after suffering complications caused by asthma and lung problems. She's prone to chest infections, and has recently returned to work after being taken ill before Christmas. Janet's stay in hospital was a difficult time for the family as their brother Gary, who also worked at the store, died seven years ago of a pulmonary edema.

Stephen said: "When she fell off her bike and really hurt herself, there was a time in hospital when we thought she wouldn't pull through, but she did. She's tough.

"It's fantastic working in the same store as Janet. I'm quite lucky that I get to see her each day and get to wave at her when I'm on the shop floor. If she needs me she knows where I am.

"I'm the same as Janet about working here. It's like a family because of the number of people here who've worked here for a long time."

Store manager Neil Roots says Stephen and Janet are both wonderful members of the team.

He said: "Janet's service is stunning and customers will go out of their way to go to her checkout because they love her.

"She's a big personality in Asda – she's got a vey cheeky personality and every customer knows her.

"Although customers don't see him as much, Stephen's great at serving the store with everything he does behind the scenes in the warehouse.

"They have a lovely connection and it's so nice to see their brotherly and sisterly love.

"We have a lot of colleagues who have given 10, 15 or 20 years' service so there's a real family feel about the store that you just don't get elsewhere. It's a close-knit store and people do like coming to see people they know and who are interested in them."