Our Thornaby colleague Karen Steedman has made such a difference to 21-year-old Adam Kewley’s shopping trips that he wrote a card to the store’s manager nominating her for an award and saying: “Thank you Karen for your help in making me feel happy when I'm shopping."
Adam is autistic and his mum Sharon said: "Karen's just great with Adam. He really looks forward to going shopping now because of her. He really looks forward to going shopping now because of her. With the coronavirus situation he's not wanted to go far, but Karen's actually made him want to go shopping. He can find it quite overwhelming, but when she's there she just makes him feel comfortable and a lot happier. He knows what days she's in so we go on those days as he's really confident around her.
"Karen's so helpful, friendly and alway happy. Nothing is too much trouble for her."
Recently Adam wanted a paddling pool which was out of stock and she managed to get one for him the next day and when she found out he was going to the 21 she got in a card and a box of treats. Adam collects the posters for the Now That's What I Call Music CDs and Karen's been trying to help him get those too. She's always talking to him and asking what he's been watching on TV too.
Karen, who's worked on the customer service desk at the store for two years, said Adam was such a "canny lad".
She said: "Because Adam is autistic the thought of shopping can panic him, but I've built a relationship up with him now so he knows exactly what days I'm working. He'll start the shop off by coming straight over to me and we can chat for ages and then he's quite happy to do the shop. He always asks can he see me before he goes home. His mum says that he just feels safe when he sees me, it just calms him down.
"I always talk to him and if he wants me to go anywhere with him I'll go with him. I always make sure he feels safe before he does his shopping. He's not shy with me at all - I always ask him what he's having for his tea cos he likes his pizza on a Friday night!"
Store manager Scott Maconathie said he wasn't in the bit surprised by the nomination by Adam.
He said: "Karen is absolutely faultless in what she does. She gives her all all of the time and her whole attitude is just unbelievable. She's a brilliant colleague and absolutely first class in whatever she does.
"I think she's won service superstar at least twice in the two years that she's been here which says it all."