Supermarket delivery driver Geoff Norris found himself in a predicament after receiving an invitation of a lifetime – to attend the King’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey.
On receiving the invitation Geoff realised that the date clashed with another once-in-a-lifetime occasion – a family holiday in Greece where he will be the best man at his son’s wedding.
Geoff, home shopping delivery driver from the Asda store in Wisbech said: “When I received the invitation from the Cabinet Office I felt very, very proud and very, very honoured.
“I obviously accepted straight away, but the panic set in as soon as I realised I was going to be out of the country, BUT I had to be at both occasions, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to be at the coronation of King Charles III and I certainly couldn’t miss my son’s wedding.”
Geoff was awarded with a British Empire Medal in Queen's Birthday Honours in 2020 for his work during the pandemic. He arranged for his team to deliver food and essentials and to look after vulnerable and elderly people in his community, he even organised a surprise 90th birthday treat for an elderly customer who was self-isolating on her own on her big day. (Full story here: Caring colleagues at Asda Wisbech reach out to do shopping for vulnerable customers)
Geoff also got his wife and daughter involved to also helped with the orders.
The family fly to Kos in early May to enjoy a family holiday around the wedding, which is taking place on May 10. As the coronation takes place on Saturday May 6, Geoff initially approached TUI which the holiday is booked with to see if he could come back for it.
He said: “The TUI website said it was going to cost £1,000 to make any changes. But I phoned and explained my situation, which they treated as ‘exceptional circumstances’.
“I have to say, their staff went above and beyond to try and help, but unfortunately the scenarios offered didn’t quite accommodate what I needed.
“So a friend’s son, Jason Duke, who is a British Airways pilot, sorted flights that work perfectly out of his own pocket which is very generous of him.
“I can now be at both events, which means the world to me.”
Geoff added: “I want to publicly thank everyone, and the companies involved, for all their help, kindness and generosity.
“During the pandemic, we only ever set out to help the elderly or vulnerable.
“Three years later, it is going to be an honour to represent my colleagues, customers and the community at such a memorable occasion.”
Two thousand people have been invited to attend the coronation and among them are 400 British Empire Medal recipients, three of which are Asda Colleagues including Geoff, Jo Scott Asda Community Champion from Pwllheli and Julie Cook Asda Community Champion from Aberdare.
Geoff will be sitting alongside The Royal Family, The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other international leaders for the occasion.
In addition, Geoff was instrumental in his support of getting Asda’s happy to chat campaign up and running which gives Asda delivery drivers the option of wearing a ‘Happy to Chat’ badge to let customers who may otherwise be lonely or isolated know they have time for them.
Further information in the links below, which also include a selection of images:
Geoff from Asda Wisbech receives BEM for his lockdown support
New Year's honour for Jo – the 'heart and soul' of Asda Pwllheli
Queen's birthday honour for inspirational 'face of Asda in Aberdare' Julie