AFTER greeting scores of locals on a daily basis at Tesco, one of Ballymoney’s most well known faces, Mary Laughlin, has decided it is time to check out.
Mary cashed up for the last time on May 26 before enjoying a farewell bash in her honour at the Lodge Hotel in Coleraine on Friday evening.
As well as workmates from Tesco, Mary was also joined by a number of customers she has befriended for her big send-off.
“Over the years I have worked there I have formed very good friendships with customers and staff,” she told the Times.
“People I served there years ago brought their children in and as time went on they brought their own children in.
“From year to year you could see children growing up and changing.”
As a familiar face to many of those popping into the busy supermarket regularly, many customers became close to Mary.
“A lot of them came to confide in me and would talk to me about problems, everyone has a story,” said Mary.
“I could write not only one book but about six about my experiences!”
Originally from the Ballymoney area, but now living outside Coleraine, Mary - who is a mum-of-two, grandmother of six and has one great grandchild - began working in Stewart’s supermarket, and later Tesco, almost 25 years ago.
Prior to that she spent a total of almost twenty years working at factories in Cloughmills and Ballymena.
Asked what she was going to do with her new found free time, Mary said she planned to travel with husband Bob who also recently retired.
Indeed, Mary delayed her own retirement by 18 months so that the pair could enjoy the new transition in their lives together.
Destinations on the travel wish list include Scotland and the Isle of Man and Mary says the couple also plan to make numerous trips in their camper van.
“We are just really looking forward to enjoying life,” she said.
“I’m so happy.
“I have worked full-time my whole life, with very little time off.
“But I have really, really enjoyed it.
“I had come to a time in my life when I felt it was time to retire.
“This feels like a second childhood, especially since I have been recently married, and I aim to make the most of it.”
And there was no doubting Mary’s popularity given the turnout at her retirement do.
“I received a lot of gifts and good wishes and it was wonderful having everyone there,” she said.
“We danced the night away and it was a fantastic evening.”
She wished to thank all those for making her retirement special.