Former Worthing Iceland worker awarded BEM in Queen’s Birthday Honours

A former Worthing Iceland worker received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to retail in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Daniel Burke started his career with the supermarket chain in Worthing’s Goring Road store – where he worked as a Saturday boy at the age of 16.

Now aged 39, he is a retail area manager for Iceland in West Belfast, Northern Ireland where he lives with his partner and children.

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Mr Burke received the prestigious award for introducing a ‘silver hour’ for elderly shoppers at the West Belfast store during the pandemic.

Daniel Burke (left), originally from Worthing, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to retail in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours

The store would open at 8am instead of 9am on Wednesdays. And proved so successful, other supermarkets followed suit.

“I was very shocked to receive it. It was a very proud moment,” said Daniel.

“And it was a total team effort – everybody contributed and made a difference.”

Mr Burke is originally from Worthing and went to Elm Grove Primary School, West Park School and St Andrew’s CE High School.

When he worked at Iceland in Goring Road, he worked his way up to a supervisor role, before working at stores in Hove and London, where he had various manager roles. He then moved to Northern Ireland, where he has lived for a few years.

Mr Burke said when the pandemic struck last March, it was ‘absolute bedlam’.

“People were buying everything and anything they could get their hands on and there was not a lot of consideration for others.

“I could see the elderly and vulnerable were not comfortable shopping and this was part of the reason to give them the hour’s shopping – to give them a time where they could shop in peace.”

He said the first time the store opened an extra hour early, it was probably the busiest it had ever been, ‘which was quite ironic’.

But, he said, the difference was there was no panic buying and shoppers were not ‘barging past people’.

“They were extremely grateful for what we had done,” continued Mr Burke.

“We had volunteers at the door to control how many people could come in the store at a time.”

He added that he and his team will be going out to celebrate his award with a bite to eat and drinks soon.