Pub cleaner, 71, hangs up mop

Pub cleaner Sheila Nicholson is retiring after working at the Red Lion, Chester-le-Street for 41 years. It will be the first time in 72 years that a member of her family is not working at the pub, Sheila's mother was a cleaner there for 25 years.
Pub cleaner Sheila Nicholson is retiring after working at the Red Lion, Chester-le-Street for 41 years. It will be the first time in 72 years that a member of her family is not working at the pub, Sheila's mother was a cleaner there for 25 years.
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AS Sheila Nicholson calls time on her 41-year career, she had every reason to feel a little sad.

Not only has the 71-year-old cleaner devoted much of her life to working at Durham’s Red Lion pub – so has her family.

Her mum, Doris Scott, also cleaned at the popular watering hole for 25 years before Sheila – meaning the family has a combined 66-year employment history with the venue.

She then moved to the front of house, learning silver service and serving customers before becoming the pub’s cleaner.

Working six days a week from 6am until midday, Sheila says the thing she’ll miss most about working at the Red Lion is the people.

The great-grandmother said: “I’ll be coming back for a drink.

“But really, I’m just looking forward to spending a bit of time with my husband, Ron.”

Sheila, of Chester-le-Street, says she has been a little bit overwhelmed by the attention her retirement has attracted.

“I really don’t know what the fuss is about but I’m very grateful,” she added.

Jill Harkness, who manages the Red Lion with husband Stuart, said: “Sheila is one of the best people I know.

“She’s such a lovely person and the team and I will be so sad to see her go.

“It’s always a pleasure to come down in the morning and see Sheila. Her passion to making sure the pub is spotless means she leaves some very big shoes to fill.

“There’s no smudge, smear or dust that she can’t spot.

“We wrote to the Queen on Sheila’s behalf, telling her of the fantastic work and dedication that she has put into her job over the years.

“We received a reply back from Sandringham saying that the Queen was touched by her story, so we’ve framed the letter and we presented it to Sheila yesterday.

“We have also organised a celebratory retirement party for Sheila’s friends, family and some of the pub’s regulars on Saturday.

“At a time when a job for life is becoming increasingly rare, Sheila’s dedication to her work at the Red Lion is even more of an achievement and we wish her lots of luck and happiness in the future.”

Twiter: @sunderlandecho