Val, 72, still a friendly face behind the counter after 40 years in Taverham shop

Val Pitcher at the Taverham One Stop where she has worked for 40 years.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Val Pitcher at the Taverham One Stop where she has worked for 40 years.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

While most people in their 70s want to relax and take things easy, 72-year-old Val Pitcher has no intention of slowing down.

Celebrating 40 years working at the One Stop shop in Taverham, her affection for her customers and colleagues has put retirement at the back of her mind.

'I know all the customers by first name,' she said. 'If someone comes in to pay for their papers they don't have to say a word.

'I know their name, paper and address.'

Mrs Pitcher started working at the shop near her home on Sandy Lane when her three children were young, moving to full time as they got older.

She worked full time up until the age of 68, and has now gone back to part time hours.

'I got lung cancer three years ago and had a year off work,' she said.

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'When I was in hospital they were so good, some of the staff and customers came and visited me.

'There was a big card in the shop and all the customers signed it.

'I didn't know if I would go back but I did in the end. I love it. I really enjoy it.'

After losing her husband 14 years ago, Mrs Pitcher found the social side of working on the tills a comfort.

She said: 'I think if my husband has still been here I would have retired with him, but work gets me out and I meet people.

'You get that friendliness, the staff are brilliant.

'They are all a lot younger than me but I think I'm a sort of mother figure!

'They sometimes ask me advice and they love me because every Friday I take them cakes!

'They're young but they do include me in everything.'

Mrs Pitcher said she never set out to stay at the shop for all these years, but just kept going.

'I think we have had a few ups and downs over the years but you get over them.

'Everybody has a day when you think you can't be bothered to go to work,' she said.

Her three children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren all live in the Norwich area, and meet up regularly.

'We're ever such a close family,' she said. 'I've got good friends and good family who live close by.

'I keep saying I'll leave at Christmas, but it depends what kind of winter we have.

'I might stay.'

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