STAFF at Asda in west Swindon are bursting with pride after colleague Michael King won the company's service hero award.

The 21-year-old, who has autism, is a favourite with customers, especially when he's working as a safety marshal.

He said: "I like to feel I’m doing my part to help out others in this difficult time. I try to keep the store as safe as possible. I seem to get on with the customers, they always say thank you to me.

“I really do enjoy my time on checkouts too. I like to be helpful and friendly to all the customers and I offer to pack for them if they need it. The colleagues are nice here too. We get on really well and work well as a team and I thank Asda for the opportunity as I think I’ve achieved a lot and I really enjoy working here.”

Customer trading manager Hannah Evans said: “What he’s done has been absolutely incredible. He’s really engaging with customers and his confidence has sky-rocketed.

“He was quite quiet when he first started and he didn’t really interact with colleagues very much, however now he’s like a different person.

"He is so confident, happy and outgoing. He volunteered to be a safety marshal just for a couple of hours as trial but he did such a good job of it that every time he comes in now we ask him to do it. I can’t count the amount of compliments I’ve had about Michael over the last couple of months.

“Customers say Michael gives them a nice warm fuzzy feeling when they come in."

Michael, who started out on Saturday shifts, went to Swindon College and then Chippenham College, where he focused on maths, English and media. When he left he did work experience at his local store in Minety before getting his job at Asda in 2018.

His dad Tony believes the job has helped his son grow in confidence. “Michael as really progressed since he started working at Asda,” he said.

“He learns in his own way and that’s why he has done so well at Asda because they have allowed him to learn by doing the job. I’m amazed by how well he’s done and I keep hearing these great reports from Asda. He has his challenges but he is quite determined.”

Michael’s development problems first began when he was just two years old. Tony added: “He had sleep-related epilepsy, so he would have seizures when he woke up and these would go on for quite a long time. They put him on medication and ever since then we noticed a change in his development.

“When he started pre-school the teacher said straight away that he had speech and language difficulties.

“As he progressed through school, it became clear that it wasn’t so much speech and language issues, but autism and by the age of age of nine he was diagnosed as being high functioning autistic.”