Two decades on a labour of love

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The first train travelled from England to France on the Channel Tunnel, Graham Taylor was England football manager and a pint of lager cost an average of £1.50.

In the last 20 years, the landscape of the country has changed significantly, but for the Sue Ryder charity shop in St Annes, one constant has remained – Jeanne Leech.

The 80-year-old has just completed two decades working at the St Andrew’s Road South store, helping stock shelves, sift through bags of clothes and sell items, all in the name of charity.

Staff at the store decided to throw her a party to honour her years in the role, which Jeanne explained happened just by chance: “I actually come from Bromley in Kent – as far removed as you could get from St Annes really.

“While on holiday in Spain many, many years ago I met a family from Blackpool and when I visited them several months later, came across St Annes and the store.

“Before I knew it I’d fallen in love with the place, moved here and started working at the shop on a voluntary basis.”

Jeanne, a former employee at world-renowned department store Harrods, in Knightsbridge, London, lives in Oxford Road, St Annes and weather permitting, walks to and from work for her twice- weekly four-hour shift every Monday and Friday.

Staff held a celebration at the store to mark her 20 years of work, as well as the Sue Ryder charity’s 60th anniversary and 90 years of St Annes Carnival, which takes place on Saturday.

Store manager Louise Bee said: “Jeanne is absolutely fabulous.

“She is a real inspiration to everyone here and we were more than happy to celebrate with her on what are very special anniversaries.”

Town mayor Coun Viv Willder was on hand to celebrate the occasion, as Jeanne was presented with a cake and gifts from staff.