All the staff at a Waitrose branch in Bouremonth have been given time off to attend the funeral of a colleague who died unexpectedly at the age of 57.
Simon Langton, known as Sam to friends, family and Waitrose customers, worked at Waitrose's Winton branch and died suddenly at his home on January 10 from an aortic aneurysm.
His wife, Marlene, told the Bournemouth Echo that staff are being brought in from other branches by head office to cover for the colleagues who want to attend his funeral. She also added that two books of condolences have been provided for staff and customers to sign.
She said: "He had such a rapport with the staff and customers. I've had so many texts from the younger members of staff to send their condolences and he was like a surrogate dad to them. He was a big guy with a big presence.
"It's feels unbelievable. I still wait for him to come through the door. His coat is still hanging on the bannister as I can't bear to move it."
She also added that her husband had worked for different Waitrose branches over the past 11 years and enjoyed his delivery job as it allowed him to drive around Bournemouth and Poole.
Neil Scorey, branch manager of the store on Wimborne Road, said: "Sam was a much loved character by both our customers and everyone here at the branch and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with Sam’s wife, Marlene, and his family at this difficult time."
His funeral takes place on February 5, and a Waitrose delivery van is expected to follow the hearse on its way to Bournemouth Crematorium.