Villager who retired as Co-op store manager heads back to shopfloor to support community

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A village Co-op has been boosted by the return to the shopfloor of a former store manager to provide support during the Coronavirus outbreak – just eight weeks after she retired from the role.

Iris Naylor had worked at the Central England Co-op food store and petrol filling station in her home village of Carlton, Barnsley for 24 years, serving the last 17-and-a-half as store manager, before deciding to enjoy a well-earned retirement earlier this year.

However, with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic she heeded the call of her community to return to work to help keep locals stocked with food and essentials and has enjoyed being part of the team again.

The 61-year-old said: “I didn’t miss it the first few weeks after I retired as you just feel like you’re on holiday, however after a few weeks I did start to miss the job and the team.

“When all this started I thought why not come back and help for a few months. My husband still works, and I only live across the road, so it felt like the right thing to do.

“It has been hard work, but it’s been good, and it was just like getting back on the horse. I’m enjoying supporting the team and the new manager Pete, without having any of the responsibility I used to have.

“Everyone is pulling together to support the village as we are pretty much the only food shop around. Everyone knows each other and is looking out for each other as we have a lot of elderly residents and we are helping with dropping off shopping for them and making sure they are OK.

“Lots of locals keep coming in and seeing me and saying, ‘I thought you were retired’ but they have said it’s nice to see me back.”

Store manager Pete Sayers said having Iris back had been a real morale boost for both the team and the community.

He said: “It’s been great. I am just settling in here as store manager so for me it has been really helpful and obviously we have had a lot of changes with people being off and the big influx in trade to the shop, so having the extra support has been so valuable.

“It is a really close-knit community here and Iris knows a lot of the customers well and of course the team here, so it has been really good for morale and it is a win-win situation for me.”

People can keep up to date with what is happening in their local community by visiting a dedicated online hub at www.centralengland.coop/updates