From colourful flares to shoulder pads, and tank tops to tie dye, Mo Cowell has witnessed every fashion fix and fad imaginable in nearly half a century behind the counter.
But the grandmother-to-be – who is the longest serving member of staff at Marks and Spencer in Shrewsbury – has hung up her measuring tape for the last time after bidding farewell to friends and colleagues.
The 65-year-old has become part of the furniture at the Darwin Centre store, having spent time on many sections including food, menswear and childrenswear before finally ending with a run in the lingerie department.
But the mother-of-two has finally retired after 46 years of service and is now looking forward to some relaxation before the eagerly-awaited arrival of her first grandchild next month.
“I will miss all of my friends and the loyal customers I’ve got to know over the years, but it will be nice to relax and spend some time with my family,” she said.
Mo, a Bayston Hill resident, was just 18 when she joined the M&S team in 1966, receiving her wages in pounds, shillings and pence.
“It was very different in those days, I remember having hour-long lunch breaks where we would have a hairdresser and chiropodist on hand – it seems funny to think back to that now,” she recalls.
“In the 70s I had a short break from work while I had my children and then I went back part time in the 80s.
“I have some extremely fond memories of working in M&S and I’ve met some life-long friends of all different ages along the way.”
She added: “I’ve seen the company, the stock and the look of the store change so much over the years as everyone has moved with modern times, but it’s been great to be a part of it.
“I’ve built up great relationships with the customers, many of them will say hello as they are passing through for their coffees.”
And being in the lingerie department, Mo relished the more personal approach championing the importance of the need for women to wear the right sized bra.
She said: “Often you first meet the ladies as young teenagers who come in with their mums, and then they come in with their own daughters because we do first time wearers and we are trained to do mastectomies and maternity.” The store will always hold a special place in Mo’s heart as she was taken in by a colleague after spending her childhood in foster care.
“I stayed with her and was company for her and I lived there until I was married,” she said.
“It was very emotional on my final shift.”
Mo clocked off for the last time yesterday when her colleagues gave her a massive send off by throwing her a party.
She also took time to admire a large photographic wall in the staff canteen which shows her working at the store in her younger days.
But despite looking forward to having more free time, Mo admits that old habits die hard and that it will be tempting to wander back into work.
She added: “It’s actually strange to think I’m retiring. I bet around Christmas time I’ll be thinking of how busy the store gets – but it will be nice for me to take some time to buy and wrap all my Christmas presents and put up my tree at my own leisure.”
Martin Woodhouse, manager of the Darwin Centre store, said: “It is the end of an era but Mo has been a fantastically loyal member of staff and a real stalwart.
“She’s done a wonderful job over the years – we just hope we see plenty of her and her grandchild in the days to come.”