I’m absolutely delighted and privileged to announce that eight of our amazing colleagues have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours today.
The Queen’s Birthday Honours recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to the UK, and this year they are celebrating those who have made a big difference in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Seven of our colleagues will be honoured with a British Empire Medal (BEM), and our HR Administrator Imran Rashid Dawji will receive an MBE!
We’re so honoured that these colleagues have been selected; it is a true reflection of the incredible work of all of our colleagues this year, as we play our part in feeding the nation.
I know you’ll join me in congratulating them and celebrating their awards, and I also want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you for everything you’re doing.
Proud to be Asda!
Introducing our MBE winner Imran Rashid Dawji
A huge congratulations to Imran in our HRSS team who has been awarded an MBE (yes you read that correctly!) in recognition of his outstanding contribution and support during the pandemic.
Imran implemented a process that highlighted the vacancies in each of our stores and made sure that it was continuously up to date so the stores could be supported in the best way.
He played a critical role in recruiting approximately 25,000 temporary colleagues as part of our friends and family recruitment scheme, making sure all our stores were in a position to onboard them as quickly as possible.
Imran’s support meant not only could we actually recruit such a huge number of colleagues, but we were able to do it in an incredibly short space of time. On top of this, team player Imran gave virtual training to colleagues who were supporting with the recruitment process.
Thanks to Imran’s determination and commitment, not only were we able to serve more customers at a time when they most needed it, but it also meant that we could shield our vulnerable colleagues.
New to role and outside of his usual remit, Imran was pivotal in making sure the scheme was such a success. He worked at speed to create around 50 positions in every single one of our stores so we could recruit the temporary colleagues we so urgently needed.
Speaking of Imran, his manager Samantha said: "Imran was fundamental in the recruitment process, often working extended hours for me and the team. Imran is fully deserving of this fantastic award, always working with a smile on his face. A real pleasure to work with and a real credit to Asda."
After finding out about his MBE, Imran said: "Hard work and tenacity were the key ingredients of this success and gave momentum to this journey over the past few months. I would like to thank my manager and all my colleagues - our success would not have been possible without your unwavering support and encouragement. Thank you.”
Congratulations to our colleagues honoured with a BEM
Simon, GSM in Marple store, rose to the challenge when the pandemic hit. Leading by example, he worked extra days and gave up holiday to support his team through this incredibly challenging time.
He selflessly volunteered his free time outside of work to support vulnerable and elderly people in his local community. He personally gathered shopping lists and then picked and delivered groceries as well as care packages to the homes of customers who would otherwise struggle to get their shopping. To help him with these deliveries, Simon got in touch with The National Lottery and managed to source an electric bike.
Recognising that loneliness is currently a massive issue for many vulnerable and elderly customers, Simon also made time for socially distanced chats to check-in on customers’ welfare.
On one delivery, he learnt that customer Marjorie, who was shielding, would be spending her 98th birthday alone. Simon, along with his colleagues and the store’s customers, rallied around and safely delivered cards and gifts to Marjorie who was delighted at their generosity.
Simon said: "When I discovered it was going to be Marjorie’s 98th birthday, I knew a celebration was in order. I was blown away by the response from our generous customers. These times are hard for us all, but it’s important we support everyone in the community, now more than ever.”
Simon’s colleague said: “Simon’s always put his customers and colleagues first and is an inspiration to everyone – he is definitely Marple’s hero."
Karen has been recognised for her key role in keeping the online grocery wheels turning at our Ellesmere Port store. She was quick to take action when learning that her store’s home delivery service was full to capacity, meaning they were unable to make vital deliveries to all the homes that needed groceries. She liaised with the field team and organised for an extra van to arrive at the store in just three days. The additional van meant groceries could be delivered to an extra 60 households every day – that’s 420 a week!
Every week, Delivery Driver Karen delivers to the Thomas family, who during the pandemic needed to shield as their two young boys are autistic. The boys look forward to their delivery arriving and seeing our famous green van. During lockdown, and knowing how excited they got when they saw the delivery van, Karen bought both boys an Asda van toy and made a goody bag with colouring books, pencils and magazines for them and had it dropped off.
The family sent in a lovely letter with photos of the boys opening the goody bags and telling Karen how she had made a difficult time a little bit brighter for them.
In addition, Karen has an Autistic son called James who had to shield due to other medical conditions too. Karen made the difficult and brave decision to have her son shield with his dad for 11 weeks rather than take time off so she could continue supporting her colleagues – two of which were new to the store so Karen knew that they would be really grateful of her guidance.
Cordelia Kingsley, GSM at Ellesmere Port, said: "We’re all very proud of Karen. She gives 200% in everything she does and always looks out for the customer. She works so hard – in fact she’s the hardest working person I’ve ever known. When she found out about this award she was quite overwhelmed – I think she thought the email spam at first! Well done Karen!”
Night’s Department Manager Lucy’s support for local care workers in her community throughout the pandemic has been absolutely incredible.
Caring Lucy, a key member of her depot’s wellbeing team, knew that local care workers were struggling with being key frontline workers, but weren’t feeling as appreciated as other frontline workers.
Wanting to help, Lucy arranged for local carers to visit the depot to recognise their fantastic work. She even made posters and arranged a socially distanced warm welcome. The care workers walked into the yard to around 50 colleagues clapping and drivers in units beeping their horns to thank them for everything they’ve been doing.
Lucy was so keen to help that she took holidays for the shift beforehand as she usually works nights, so that she could be there to give her full support to the care workers as it meant so much to her (Asda will be cancelling the holidays and returning the annual leave to her!).
Incredibly, Lucy even spent her day off delivering chocolates to her shielding colleagues, to make sure that they didn’t feel isolated and knew they were being missed. This was really appreciated and is testament to how Lucy is always thinking of others and ways to help.
Community Colleague Julie from Aberdare has given incredible support to her local community and her colleagues, boosting morale, caring for vulnerable people and overseeing donations to local charities.
Not only has Julie helped during her working hours, but she’s also given up her spare time to support those who really needed it too.
When a local care home couldn’t get an online delivery slot and were struggling with item limits in store, Julie took their shopping list each week and would have everything ready for care home staff to pay for and collect, and would even help them to load the car.
Caring Julie supported local hospitals and donated toiletries and Easter eggs to keep their colleagues' spirits up, as well as wash bags for patients who might be struggling due to family not being able to visit.
As was publicised by the BBC, Julie worked with the local council to give local children a treat and dressed as the Easter bunny to deliver Easter eggs to local children whose parents were vulnerable and/or self-isolating.
During lockdown she was voluntarily in the building early every shift to take control of our elderly, vulnerable and NHS shopping hours – she supported them with their shopping in store and even went down the queue to bring them in and make sure weren’t queuing longer than they needed to.
When Coronavirus broke out, our Superintendent Pharmacist Faisal knew the importance of making sure everyone, vulnerable or not, had their medication so worked at pace to create a contingency plan on how we could serve our customers.
This included how we could continue supporting our communities in the event of absent pharmacists and in anticipation of large numbers of colleagues having to Isolate. In addition, Faisal made sure we could stand up colleagues to cover the pharmacy who had the right skills so customers were still receiving their medication.
Faisal always has the safety of our colleagues and customers at the front of mind and created a prescription delivery service from scratch, in a little under two weeks. To protect customers still coming into our shops to collect their medication, Faisal and team created a UK-first prescription ‘call and collect’ service. Completely contact free, the service allowed customers to notify the pharmacist when they’ve arrived in the car park and a colleague would drop their medication into the boot.
Speaking about his fantastic recognition, Faisal says: “I feel honoured and humbled to be accepting the British Empire Medal, it’s a testament to the incredible work of all our pharmacy teams in stores and the support of my head office colleagues.
“They have all really pulled together to go above and beyond to look after our patients when they needed us the most. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with so many dedicated people.”
Sam has acted selflessly throughout the pandemic to support her colleagues and local community. She quickly set up weekly phone calls with vulnerable people from local community groups, including Alzheimer's Society Café, the local church, and the W.I knit and natter group - to provide support and even deliver shopping if they were struggling.
Sam, Community Champion at our Hayes store, also spent her own time arranging donations to local charities, foodbanks and frontline workers. This included organising and delivering snacks to NHS and care workers, and creating a fantastic display in store to celebrate the NHS’ 72nd birthday. As well as donating much needed face masks to five local care homes, and supporting the Salvation Army to make sure homeless people had the help they needed.
In store Sam is an incredible team player, at the start of the pandemic she delighted colleagues by organising breakfast and snacks at the store to keep them fuelled. She then organised a care package for shielding colleagues to make sure they knew we were thinking of them, which included facemasks and gloves to help keep them safe. And she regularly collated the thank you messages customers were sending into store so she could share them with colleagues and keep morale high at such a busy time.
The support Sam has given to her local community and colleagues over the last few months has been nothing short of exceptional, thank you Sam.
Geoff, Home Shopping Delivery Driver at our Wisbech store, has been a true Asda hero during the pandemic, looking after vulnerable and elderly customers by doing their shopping for them on his days off and delivering it in his own car. As with all of our online teams, the Wisbech Home Shopping team have faced massive challenges from the number of orders dramatically increasing, and they rose brilliantly to this challenge, but their efforts didn’t stop there.
Geoff knew he wanted to help as soon as he found out that a number of housebound customers, who were self-isolating, were struggling to get the supplies they needed. He asked his team for volunteers to help in their own time, and immediately five drivers and nine pickers came forward knowing it would make a vital difference to people in their community.
With the help of his wife and daughter, Geoff took orders by email, phone and from the directly from the store - when customers contacted them asking for help. The team even helped a family who lived miles away and needed a way to get food to their vulnerable parents who had no internet. Geoff then went into store every Sunday morning on his day off, to pick the shopping and take it through the tills, before delivering it in his own car.
Geoff’s acts of kindness have been described as a "lifeline" by one elderly shopper, while another said they had been "life savers."
And it’s not just shopping that kind-hearted Geoff has helped vulnerable customers with. When he learned that a regular customer Eileen would be by herself on her 90th birthday, Geoff organised a surprise for her. Observing social distancing, Geoff and colleagues decorated the outside of her bungalow with balloons, brought her cake and flowers and read out birthday messages from her family before singing happy birthday. Eileen who used to be a nurse, said: "It was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't believe it – it was like a fairytale!"