Wales

Age is just a number for these Welsh workers

Colin Leigh, 83, Katya Foster, 8 and Reg Buttress, 93 Image copyright Asda/Sainsbury's
Image caption Colin Leigh, 83, Katya, 8 and Reg Buttress, 93

Most people in the UK start work in their early 20s and retire in their mid-60s, so what has prompted an eight-year-old girl and three men in their 80s and 90s to buck the trend?

The 83-year-old

Great grandfather Colin Leigh has been working at Asda's Coryton store in Cardiff for 11 years.

The till assistant is a firm favourite with customers and often has a queue of people waiting to be served by him. He even hands out sweets as they pass through his checkout.

Mr Leigh left school at 17 and completed national service with the RAF which saw him serve in Germany.

He spent his working life as a design engineer for various companies, starting at Gould's Foundry in Cardiff Bay and then for the likes of Currans and Fram Filters.

During his time at John Graham Engineering in Barry, Mr Leigh designed components for Rolls Royce and Concorde.

"I've worked in so many places and I have always been happy in my jobs," he said.

Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption "Colleagues call me a legend, which makes me laugh"

He was still working part time in 2005, when a friend mentioned there were jobs going in Asda, which was close to his home in Taff's Well.

He applied and in his interview was asked to speak to the person next to him about their life.

"I wrote a full sheet of paper on the chap who was next to me," he said.

Impressed with his listening skills, management offered Mr Leigh the job, starting in customer service and then moving to the checkouts.

Mr Leigh's wife of 50 years, Pamela, died five years ago and he said his job "gave him a reason to get up in the morning" and "got him out of the house".

He said he was "not one to sit at home" and his favourite part of the job was meeting new people.

"I've got to know the customers, I love talking to them and giving them sweets.

"It's a special environment to work in, we're like a big family and they (Asda) bend over backwards for me."

He added his job at the supermarket kept him "busy and active," and giving advice to other workers he said: "If you like your job, do it. But if you don't like your job, you have to change it and find something you like".

Mr Leigh said he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

Image copyright Sainsbury's
Image caption Mr Buttress said he has loved every job he has had

The 93-year-old

Reg Buttress began working for Sainsbury's in his hometown of Cwmbran, Torfaen, in 1981 after being made redundant aged 59.

He retired at 65, but was asked to return part-time just a few weeks later.

"I felt lost without a job," he said, and "I had to go back."

"It's a marvellous shop and I love meeting all the different people."

The great grandfather has held a number of jobs at the supermarket, from collecting trolleys and stacking shelves, to individually pricing items and greeting customers.

He started his working life at 13 at Hafodyrynys colliery, and when he got laid off he went to an unemployment office which told him there were no local jobs.

He then took a factory job in Birmingham, earning 14 shillings a week.

Mr Buttress recalls his father buying him a bike he used to cycle from his home in Pontypool to Birmingham.

"It took me two days and I stopped to sleep in a hedge," he said.

He returned to south Wales during the war when his accommodation was bombed.

He found work as a steam engine driver on the railways in Pontypool before the Beeching cuts, and later took a job at a Nylon factory before joining Sainsbury's.

Image copyright Sainsbury's
Image caption Mr Buttress's colleagues said he was as an "inspiration to them all"

Mr Buttress was married for 65 years, before his wife Gwendoline died two years ago.

He said he was planning a second attempt at retirement in September when he turns 94.

"I'm getting a bit slower," he said, and he is looking forward to spending more time in his garden and greenhouse.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Dudley said his colleagues were "like family"

The 92-year-old

World War Two veteran Bill Dudley is McDonalds' oldest employee in Europe.

He took a part-time job in customer care at his local restaurant in Mold, Flintshire, aged 81 and "hasn't looked back".

The great grandfather, of Connah's Quay, said he was "bored pottering around the house" and his wife "wouldn't let him help out with the gardening".

Mr Dudley served in the navy and worked as a train driver before becoming a taxi driver and, despite being in employment since he was 12, he said he "still loves going to work".

His managers have described him as "an extremely-valued member of the team" who is "loved by customers and staff alike".

Image caption Katya helps out at the charity during the school holidays

The eight-year-old

At the other end of the age spectrum is Katya from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.

She began volunteering at an anti-poverty charity with her grandparents "as soon as she was able to walk".

And since then she has spent school holidays helping to sort food and clothes donations, as well as taking part in collections at local supermarkets.

But her favourite time of the year is the Christmas toy sort, when the charity gives donated gifts to more than 500 children in Pembrokeshire.

Katya said: "I like choosing stuff. I've got a very wise taste. With children my age, I know what they would like."

She enjoys volunteering saying she would "rather help people than go out and play with her friends".

Katya enjoys working with the people at the charity, especially her grandmother Tracy Olin, who is the charity's coordinator.

She said it made her "feel good that she was helping other people".

Katya added that she will continue to volunteer and "help people in need" and "might want grandma's job when she's old enough".

Mrs Olin said: "We love it when the young volunteers are here, because they're such fun and they have so much enthusiasm.

"Katya has learned to treat everyone with respect. She knows that some people have nothing and some people have lots, but they're all the same people."

Image caption Katya began volunteering at the charity with her family

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