Meet Barnitts’ memory man Alex Wilkinson

York Press: Alex Wilkinson, who works in the gardens department at Barnitts in York employee Alex Wilkinson, who works in the gardens department at Barnitts in York employee

A YORK teenager has become “the voice of Barnitts” after developing a memorable talent.

Alex Wilkinson, 18, spends two days a week in the York department store, in Colliergate, on a voluntary work placement basis.

Over his three years with the business Alex, who is autistic, has used his incredible memory skills to learn all the television adverts shown on small screens across the garden department, where he works.

After just one viewing, Alex can recite word for word advertising promotions, bringing them to life for customers in the shop.

Gardens manager Geoff Ely said: “Alex started with us three years ago on a work placement from Archbishop of Holgate School where he was a pupil at the time.

“He was quite shy and quiet, and very unsure of himself around other people. It is remarkable how much he has developed. He is so much more confident and has developed this amazing talent.

“Alex can recite word for word all the video adverts we have in the department. He performs his own live voice overs for customers, speaking exactly in time and mimicking the tone perfectly. He only has to listen to it once then he knows it off by heart.

“The customers are fascinated by him, they can’t believe what he can do.”

In his free time Alex has even recorded his voice-overs on to a memory stick, which he often plugs into the televisions in the store to play his version of the adverts.

Alex, who now studies IT at York College, said: “I really enjoy working here. My main jobs are filling up the shelves and pricing up.

“But when customers need information about some products I can do the advert for them. Everyone always says it wouldn’t matter if the televisions broke because they have me.

“Working here has really helped me develop a lot of skills. I enjoy being around other people and working with a team.”

Mr Ely is now calling for more businesses to support youngsters with special needs to get access to the work place.

He said: “We have worked with Archbishop of Holgate School for some time, offering placements to pupils with learning difficulties. Alex enjoyed it so much that when he started at York College he asked if he could stay on with us, and we were more than happy to accept. Alex has gained so much independence.

“He struggled to do things by himself before, yet now he has memorised the bus timetable and is more than comfortable travelling too and from work by himself. Offering placements really gives something to these kids.”

Comments (9)

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9:32am Mon 30 Dec 13

northern belle says...

Good for Barnitts in taking these placements...talk about a win-win situation! And thanks for a positive and happy story, York Press - we need more of them.
Good for Barnitts in taking these placements...talk about a win-win situation! And thanks for a positive and happy story, York Press - we need more of them. northern belle

10:04am Mon 30 Dec 13

ouseswimmer says...

Well done Alex! Good for Barnitts too. Great to see and hear about success stories such as this.
Well done Alex! Good for Barnitts too. Great to see and hear about success stories such as this. ouseswimmer

10:35am Mon 30 Dec 13

yawn.. says...

That's the kinda story I like to hear.. Top man Alex, and keep up the good work pal.. and all the best to Barnitts for the coming year.
That's the kinda story I like to hear.. Top man Alex, and keep up the good work pal.. and all the best to Barnitts for the coming year. yawn..

11:17am Mon 30 Dec 13

Ignatius Lumpopo says...

What a great story. One can assume from it that Alex does a spot-on rendition of the JML guy: "So, take yours to the check-out, now!"
What a great story. One can assume from it that Alex does a spot-on rendition of the JML guy: "So, take yours to the check-out, now!" Ignatius Lumpopo

12:11pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Zetkin says...

So often, a person's disability is in the eyes of the people around him/her.

Give people a chance, along with the right support and encouragement, and they might amaze and delight you.

What a contrast with the behaviour of our government, which believes disabled people should be bullied, threatened and victimised.
So often, a person's disability is in the eyes of the people around him/her. Give people a chance, along with the right support and encouragement, and they might amaze and delight you. What a contrast with the behaviour of our government, which believes disabled people should be bullied, threatened and victimised. Zetkin

12:51pm Mon 30 Dec 13

CaroleBaines says...

Fabulous story - well done Barnitts and Alex. Positive outcomes all round.
Fabulous story - well done Barnitts and Alex. Positive outcomes all round. CaroleBaines

1:54pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Minguel says...

Can we have a feel good story like this on a weekly basis please Press? It's good to know that positive things are going on around us that we wouldn't otherwise see.
Can we have a feel good story like this on a weekly basis please Press? It's good to know that positive things are going on around us that we wouldn't otherwise see. Minguel

3:35pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Alex-Wilko12 says...

Thanks Everyone I know every single Neat Ideas Tv adverts there from Garden Sharp, Watering Spikes, Bird Feeder Kit, Super Spray, and also Handy Hanger.
Here is my quote from the tv adverts 'Take yours to the checkout now'
Thanks Everyone I know every single Neat Ideas Tv adverts there from Garden Sharp, Watering Spikes, Bird Feeder Kit, Super Spray, and also Handy Hanger. Here is my quote from the tv adverts 'Take yours to the checkout now' Alex-Wilko12

7:24pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Blimp says...

Brilliant, love it! More please.

And happy 2014 to Woody, Ignatius, Buzz and all the other posters (including top wind-up merchant Pedalling Paul) who keep us amused through the year. Cheers everybody!
Brilliant, love it! More please. And happy 2014 to Woody, Ignatius, Buzz and all the other posters (including top wind-up merchant Pedalling Paul) who keep us amused through the year. Cheers everybody! Blimp

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