Ola brings some joy to his work as a security guard at Tesco in Whiteley

Darren Gooding of Whiteley Village awards security guard Ola Ayeni with the News Customer Service Accolade 
Picture: Ian Hargreaves (161264-1)
Darren Gooding of Whiteley Village awards security guard Ola Ayeni with the News Customer Service Accolade Picture: Ian Hargreaves (161264-1)
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HIS smiling, happy ways make supermarket shopping just a little more joyful and now he’s been honoured with an award.

Ola Ayeni, a security guard at Tesco in Whiteley Shopping Centre, won the Customer Service accolade in The News’ Retail and Leisure Awards, held in September.

He was backed for the accolade by people who say he brightens their day with his positive, friendly attitude. His picture was shared on Facebook and hundreds of people commented with good wishes.

Unfortunately, personal tragedy struck when Ola’s father died and he could not make the award ceremony as he had to go back to his home country of Nigeria.

However, his award was collected by the shopping centre management and he was presented with it when he returned to the store.

Ola, 39, said: ‘My family were so happy. I took the award to church in London and it was very special for me. Everybody was so happy.

‘I can’t even say why I won it – it is just me. I just do what I enjoy doing every day.

‘I appreciate everyone, especially where I work. I appreciate every single soul that comes into the store.’

Married dad-of-two Ola, from Regents Park, Southampton, has worked in the store for nine months – six employed by a security company and three months employed directly by Tesco.

He said: ‘It is a job that I love to do. It is dealing with people. I couldn’t become a police officer as I did not have a proper education but I am so grateful to Tesco as it has changed my life.

‘My manager says that this is where I was supposed to be, that it’s my calling, I’m not sure about that but I really like it, I enjoy it. I just thank everyone for shopping at Tesco.’

Ola was nominated by store manager Andrew Grainger.

He said: ‘Great customer service is rarely delivered by just one person in retail. Customer service comes from a team of people working with a shared goal to deliver outstanding service.

‘At Tesco Whiteley, however, there is one person that has had such an impact on customers that I had to nominate an individual rather than a team.

‘Ola has become an overnight sensation in Whiteley and, to some extent, a local celebrity. Ola has changed the game in terms of security. It is often said that the best security is excellent customer service, well if that’s true then we have the best security ever.’

Ola’s unrelenting positivity and enthusiasm has even seen him recognised by Tesco as Employee of the Month and in Whiteley Shopping Centre’s Service Excellence scheme.