A SUPERMARKET checkout has been transformed into a shrine in memory of a hugely popular worker who died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage.
Till number seven at Blackburn Asda has not been used since the death of Sue Ashworth, known as Queen Bee by her colleagues due to her insistence on always sitting at the same checkout.
Colleagues now plan to install a brass plaque at the checkout as a permanent memorial.
The store said customers ‘loved her friendly banter’ and described her as ‘a very dear friend’ to her colleagues.
Today dozens of work colleagues have been given time off to attend her funeral at St Barnabas Church in Darwen, with staff drafted in from stores in Accrington and Preston to cover.
Many described how her death had left a ‘huge hole’ and the supermarket would never be the same again.
Her boyfriend of seven-and-a-half years Peter Heaton said she was still helping people after her death with her organs being donated to help several people on the transplant waiting list.
He said: “People would queue at her checkout while the other girls had nothing to do.”
She would come home and talk about all of her customers because she took such an interest in them.
“Everybody shopping in Asda used to know her and go and talk to her.”
Miss Ashworth, 58, of Cemetery Road, Darwen, collapsed after complaining of a headache at a friend’s house and died a day later in Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Heather Robinson, a close friend and Asda colleague, said Miss Ashworth had called in to her house on the way home on December 27 when she collapsed.
She said: “She rang me up and said she was coming round for a brew.
“When she arrived I could tell she didn’t look herself.
“She had a headache and she was sick a couple of times, then it started to get worse.
“I started to take her for a lie down and she just collapsed at the top of my stairs.”
Cousin Bev Jackson, of Surrey Avenue, Darwen, said: “I remember her as the oldest teenager in town as she always had shorts on and things dangling from her hair.
“She liked being around younger people as well, which I think kept her younger.
“She was always laughing. She made a really good friend.
“Sue was funny and loud. Once you met her you never forgot her.
“But underneath she was quite shy and gentle really.”
Best friend and another Asda colleague, Tracy Millward, said Miss Ashworth loved working at the Grimshaw Park store.
She said: “She was a very special person who touched a lot of people’s hearts.
“She would do anything for anybody and she has left a big hole.
“Life will never be the same again. And Asda will never be the same, either.”
Miss Ashworth went to Knowle Secondary Modern School, which later became Darwen Moorland, and grew up nearby.
She was a passionate animal lover, looking after her beloved dogs Oliver and Lucy, and regularly supporting the RSPCA.
Blackburn Asda people service manager Linda Shuttleworth said Miss Ashworth was one of the store’s longest-serving staff members.
She said: “Over the years Sue must have served tens of thousands of people.
“There was always a queue at her checkout because the customers loved her friendly banter.
“We have all lost a very dear friend. We will miss her so much, both colleagues and customers alike.
“Anybody that knew Sue would be thankful they did and she has left a lasting memory in all of our hearts.”
Miss Ashworth funeral takes place at 10.30am at St Barnabas Church in Watery Lane, Darwen, with a burial at Darwen Eastern Cemetery and wake at the Whitehall Hotel.