Irene serves up a new role in age battle

Irene Mullenger
Irene Mullenger

Leighton cafe owner Val Taylor has gone to the aid of pensioner Irene Mullenger by offering the golden oldie former checkout girl a new role as a barista.

Val, who runs the five-star rated Coffee Bay, at Leighton Garden Centre, offered 81-year-old Irene a voluntary role behind the counter after hearing how the Great Brickhill widow was forced to quit her job at B & Q after a row over shift changes.

And now she has nothing for praise for older staff who, she said, “could teach younger workers a thing or two” about job commitment.

The two women met at the hairdressers after Irene had to leave B & Q at Bletchley after nearly 25 years with the DIY firm.

“She told me what had happened at B & Q and I invited her to the cafe for a cup of coffee,” said Val “but I ended up offering her a few hours each week as a volunteer. She lost her husband some years ago and she hates being at home on her own. Irene is a really bubbly person who loves being with people.

“She comes to us once a week and the customers just love her. Not only that she will happily volunteer for extra shifts if someone is away or ill. Nothing is too much trouble for her and she’s a really hard worker.

“She’s a remarkable person. No-one believes she is 81 because she looks and acts so much younger. She has a tremendous work ethic which is sometimes missing from younger people. I’m delighted that we could be of help.”

Val has been a longtime champion of older workers and employs her own 75-year-old aunt, “Auntie Anne” at the Hockliffe Road cafe along with younger members of staff.

Irene is thought to be one of the oldest people in the country to claim unfair dismissal.