'He's unbelievable really'
Tom, a porter at the Asda Wigan superstore store in Greater Manchester, says he has no plans to retire as he loves meeting and helping regular customers like Margaret Barker, who had a stroke last year and needs a mobility scooter to get out and shop now.
Margaret, 66, said: "When I came back after my stroke everyone was really helpful but Tom stuck out. He always has a smile on his face and will do anything to help you – he’s such a nice gentleman. For 92 he's unbelievable really."
When Tom arrived at work on his Birthday, colleagues had decorated a trolley and put up banners and balloons. He said: "It was such a nice surprise to see what they'd done here for my birthday. I was chuffed to hear I am Asda’s oldest colleague."
The store’s people trading manager Mark Bell said: "A lot of our regular customers know when Tom's in so they’ll come in on those days just to see him. He’s amazing – you’ll see him loading groceries into the cars of customers half his age. He's a pleasure to work with and an inspirational character to have in the business."
Tom said: “If I didn’t come to work here I would really miss everything about everyday working life. I would miss the chat with customers and catching up with them. I meet some very nice people. Every day is different – you meet different people all with different stories. Sometimes they’re having a good time, sometimes middle and sometimes bad, but it’s just nice to talk to them. They come for a shop of course but they come for a chat too – this store is at the centre of the community here.
Tom ran a shop and post office in Flint in Wales with his late wife Joan before moving back to his home town of Wigan in 1988.
He joined Asda as a porter and retired in 1996 but continued to shop at the store. Just before Christmas 1997 colleagues asked him if he was interested in returning on a three-month temporary contract – and he's stayed ever since, working three mornings a week.
Tom has two children – Elaine, 68, and Stuart, 62 – seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
He says: “I have a wonderful life. I live on my own but I’ve got a really good family round me – I’m always surrounded by grandkids. I’m healthy and active – I don’t feel 92. I’ve just got myself a smartphone and I’m on Facebook too – although I haven’t used it much yet!".
Tracey Magee, who's worked at the store for 16 years, said: “Tom is a really lovely chap – he’s bubbly and always smiling. He doesn’t look his age. As well as helping customers with their shopping, he’s helped change their tyres when they got a flat too! We’re so lucky and happy to have him here.”