JOAN Ferguson is not only a keen floral artist, a farmer’s wife and mother of four, but she is also Portadown’s Person to be Proud of 2012.
The Cordners employee is almost part of the shoe shop’s furniture having been there for more than four decades.
Working in the children’s department, Joan comes across all kinds of special requirements from fitting shoes for children with artificial limbs to children with two different sized feet. “They’re my life,” she says.
Nominated by a mother whose child has Down’s Syndrome, the sales assistant was speechless even to have been nominated.
“I was overwhelmed to be even recognised by a parent to say that I should be in for this and to win...I just can’t put the words to it. It’s just breathtaking.” says Joan. “The parents really appreciate me and that’s why they keep returning because children who have special needs like to communicate with the same person. They don’t like change.”
Crowned queen of the Portadown’s Person to be Proud of title and winner of £400 vouchers for The Meadows Shopping Centre, High Street Mall, Asda and Magowan West, it’s easy to see why she’s touched the hearts of so many.
“After I finish my sale I go down to the till to get the money and the biggest smile I’ll get is for handing that child a balloon. I get hugs, I get kisses, I just be smothered with kisses from children. Mums say ‘you sit up there and be a good boy or girl for Joan and she’ll have a special treat for you’,” said Joan.
One customer, Tracey Doherty, said the place wouldn’t be the same without Joan. “I’ve been a customer in Cordners for 15 years and I come back for the choice and Joan. She is very friendly, very helpful and I would put my trust in Joan. If she says my children need certain shoes or widths or whatever, I would trust her. Probably loads of people come in here because of Joan. You could come in here and spend £100 odd and I would trust her completely. She has that magic touch.” said Tracey.
Cordners, situated on High Street, has been a staple part of Portadown town centre for more than 40 years, offering a range of brands and styles of shoes. Joining the team as a school girl, Joan has never looked back and her boss, Harold Lindsay, couldn’t be more proud.
“We have been open for 42 to 43 years. Joan has been here the biggest part of that time. I knew she would win this award because she’s, like myself, been here for a long time, everybody knows her and she does a good job. She looks after the customers very well, as well as the other 12 employees here. I have nothing but the best of staff here.” said Harold.
When Joan isn’t working part-time in Cordners she enjoys going to country and western concerts, being wined and dined by her husband and spending as much time as possible with her grandchildren. This love of children in her personal life shines through in her professional life too. “I treat all children the same. First of all I would ask their name, have contact with eyes, sit with them. There are days I don’t have a minute but when I go home and out the door I know I have done what I am here to do and that’s to see to the children of Portadown, Lurgan, Newry, Dungannon, Moy and right around the neighbouring area. You know a lot of people come in to see Joan. The children think it’s Joan’s shop and it’s not!” she laughs.