Kirsty Rhodes, from Spar St Dials, in Wales, has been crowned Sales Assistant of the Year 2017.

The community- and business-minded Cwmbran store supervisor was awarded the trophy at Convenience Store’s Sales Assistant of the Year Awards held at London’s Dorchester hotel yesterday (November 7).

During judging, Kirsty demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of how the business works and a genuine passion for building the store’s profit, as well as an extensive list of charity work including a marathon and sky-dive.

For these and many other reasons, Kirsty personifies the idea of an outstanding member of staff and has become her store manager’s right hand woman.

On winning the award, Kirsty said: “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, I still feel like it’s due to go to someone else!

”It’s been a gradual process which has just gotten better and better. I filled out the application form, then had the judging visit, then I stayed in the Grosvenor Hotel and today I’m having lunch at The Dorchester! It’s fantastic and certainly something I don’t usually get to experience in my normal life.”

Kirsty attended the awards as the winner of the Multiple store category.

Gerard O’Neill, shop floor sales assistant at Springisland Supermarket, in Coalisland, Northern Ireland, was awarded the Community Hero prize during the ceremony. He also won the Independent category award.

Gerard blew judges away with his inspiring personality and communication skills which have made him a real local celebrity. Despite being deaf and mute, Gerard converses with every customer that walks in the store. Gerard has also helped to raise thousands of pounds through his constant charity work.

Gerard’s store manager Austin Kelly described what the award meant to Gerard.

”This will have given Gerard so much more confidence in the workplace. This has been a wonderful opportunity for us to thank him for all the hard work he has done for us.

“Lots of people have disabilities and I hope anyone will look to Gerard and see what he has achieved and it will give them some inspiration.” 

Convenience Store editor David Rees said: “All of our four category winners were outstanding in their own right, but Kirsty is a very worthy all-round champion. As well as maintaining impeccable store standards and a friendly demeanour at all times, she also demonstrates a great understanding of business and retail operations, with a number of her original ideas being adopted both in the store to drive incremental sales and across the Blakemore Retail store estate as a whole.

“On top of this, she also undertakes a prodigious amount of charity fundraising activity for the benefit of local and national causes.”

Kim Curry, team leader at Spar Tates Avenue, Belfast, won the Forecourt category. She impressed judges with her sparkling personality and ambition.

Shirley Holt, community liaison representative from the Lincolnshire Co-operative North Hykeham Food Store, was chosen as winner of the Co-operative category after showing judges she had genuine passion for her community beyond the charity work she organises at the store.

 All category winners received a £500 cash prize, with Kirsty winning an additional £500 and Gerard winning an additional £250. Kirsty’s store manager also won £250 for her achievement.

The Sales Assistant of the Year Awards was supported by Coca-Cola European Partners, JTI and Procter & Gamble.