A SAINSBURY’S stalwart has retired after working at the shop for the past 32 years.

Joan Price, now 83-years-old has worked at the Sainsbury’s store at Rayleigh Weir and finished her last shift yesterday.

Mrs Price told the Echo that when she told her friends she was retiring, they jokingly told her “at last”.

She said: “Every year I’ve been saying I need to go.

“I kept telling everyone I wouldn’t do another Christmas.

“It’s my time to go now, give someone else a turn.

“I’ve been working in the flowers section for a while now. I gradually worked my way up from shelf stacking, then onto the check outs, then onto the flowers.

“I’m only short and sometimes my arms can’t reach right to the back.”

Joan, who moved to Rayleigh in 1964, added that retiring will feel like an extended holiday.

She said: “It will feel strange at first.

“It’s been lovely working there.

“Everyone’s so friendly.

“I will really miss it.

“The customers have been saying that they’re going to miss me. You get used to having them around

“All of my friends who worked with me have already left.

“I was the eldest one there.

“I still keep in touch and catch up with the girls who were there with me. We’ve just started going to bingo once a month.”

Mrs Price described how the Sainsbury’s store has changed over the years. She added: “It’s changed a lot in the time I’ve been there.

“It’s expanded so much.

“The retail trade is so different now to how it used to be.

“It’s less family orientated than before.

“They had a reshuffle last year which meant there were so many new people joining.

“They’re taking on more and more people on shorter hours.

“It’s difficult to get to know people. I’ve been shortening my hours so I don’t have a tea break anymore.

“That was my chance to make friends with people.”

Joan’s daughter, Sharron, commended her mum for her service to Sainsbury’s. She said: “She’s been on the flowers for so long now.

“She’s needed to take a break.

“Mum’s still very active, she gets out and about as much as she can.

“She needed to retire a long time ago.

“Mum’s been our rock for so many years.

“She’s amazing.”