Daniel Hill of Spar Lambeg in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, was awarded the prestigious title of Sales Assistant of the Year at a glittering awards ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel in London yesterday.

He was also crowned best sales assistant in the Multiple Symbol sector and awarded £1,000 in prize money, while store manager Tom Keightley was awarded £250 for his support. Simon Sims of the Chelmsford Star Co-op in Hutton, Essex, was awarded the title of Community Hero, in addition to winning best sales assistant in the Multiple & Co-op sector. He was awarded £750 in prize money for reaching the finals.

The national competition, organised by Convenience Store magazine, celebrates the very best that the UK has to offer in terms of customer service, community interaction, and business achievement.

Daniel admitted he never did well at school, but has achieved everything through hard work. He has only been working at the Spar store for a year, but in that time he has gone from strength to strength. His passion for customer service saw him introduce a script for cashiers to encourage them to interact more with customers and increase sales by upselling. He also took on the role of health and safety officer, and helped the store to climb from just 6% compliance to 91% in a matter of months.

Convenience Store editor David Rees said: “Daniel is a very impressive young man who has made a huge impact on the Spar store in Lambeg in a relatively short space of time.

“The judges were wowed by both his determination to improve sales and service at the store and his commitment to the wider local community. Colleagues see him as the ‘go to’ man in the store to provide innovative solutions to operational problems, and Daniel himself knows virtually every customer by name.

“He has put a huge amount of time into fundraising activity for local schools, churches and charities, with great success. In his own words, he is proud to work in his local shop, and everything he has achieved has been through hard work.”

Daniel was over the moon to be awarded overall winner. “I never thought I’d win the main prize,” said Daniel. “I was nearly in tears! This award will give me great confidence to progress in a workforce I love. Being Sales Assistant of the Year will give me a platform from which to progress – the world is my oyster!”

To reach the finals, Daniel had to submit a written entry, before a judging visit and face-to-face interview were carried out at his workplace. He was then interviewed by a judging panel on the morning of the awards before being given his prize at a special ceremony, hosted by TV personality Cheryl Baker.

Simon was awarded the Community Hero title for his exceptional commitment to the local area. He is dedicated to helping his local community, organising raffles and making up prize hampers, and in doing so has raised £3,000 for the local school. He is also keen to promote the Co-op Society’s community card, which allows customers to donate points from their shopping to local community groups.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m on top of the world,” Simon said. “This is a massive pat on the back and that’s all you want, to be appreciated for what you do. I hope I can go on to inspire people I work with and come in contact with. It was one thing winning my section, but it’s amazing to be named Community Hero too.”

Full list of winners:

Sales Assistant of the Year and Multiple Symbol sector winner - Daniel Hill, Spar Lambeg, Lisburn, N Ireland

Community Hero and Multiple & Co-op sector winner - Simon Sims, Chelmsford Star Co-op, Hutton, Essex

Independent sector winner - Martina Casey, Springisland Supermarket, Coalisland, N Ireland

Independent Symbol sector winner - Angus Pidgley, Knight’s Budgens of Hassocks, West Sussex

Forecourt sector winner - Kingsley Elliff, AW & D Hammond,Halesworth, Suffolk

Sales Assistant of the Year is supported by Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mars Chocolate, JTI and Procter & Gamble.