AN autistic boy who loves Tesco was overjoyed when staff at a County Durham supermarket helped his family to grant his birthday wish.

Phoenix Keys enjoys visiting the Tesco Extra store, in Newton Aycliffe, where his family has turned its weekly shopping trip into a game to keep him happy.

Parents Rachel and Wesley split their grocery list in half and take either Phoenix or his eight-year-old brother Chase and to tick off all the items on their list.

Once they are finished, Phoenix is allowed to ride on the escalator which is his favourite thing in the store.

During a recent shopping trip, Phoenix spotted a rescue helicopter in the toy aisle and it went straight to the top of his birthday wish-list.

Mrs Keys said: “Usually he says he’d like something then never mentions it again, but this is the one thing he repeatedly said he wanted.

“We wanted to give him the enjoyment of going to Tesco to buy it himself, because he loves the shop so much, but worried it would be out of stock.

“So I bought it and asked to put it behind the customer service desk.

“On Sunday, after we’d had his birthday breakfast and gone to the park, we gave his brother a note to say one of Phoenix’s presents was in a hiding place and the clue was ‘where we do our food shop’.

“Straight away it was ‘Tesco, let’s go’.

"We sent him up to the counter and he was shy at first but told them who he was and it was his birthday and the staff made a real effort, they said there’d been a special delivery and gave him his present.

“He was blown away and he didn’t want to stop playing with it.

“I knew he’d be excited but I didn’t expect just how special it would be to him, it was so sweet and the customer service ladies and I were trying not to cry.

“A couple of them messaged me afterwards to say it was an honour and it made their day to see him so happy.”

Mrs Keys, who works for an asbestos company checking safety reports, and Mr Keys, a soldier, have thanked staff at the store for understanding Phoenix’s autism and helping to make his birthday so special.

Mrs Keys said: “When he was little we knew his progress was different to his brothers, we were told food is fun for under ones then he was in the terrible twos then in Christmas 2018 he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

“Sometime people judge or look at us so it was really nice of the Tesco staff to be so kind and considerate.

“I think they’ve had a rough time and had to put up with some negative comments the past year or so but I think they deserve our thanks.”


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