Kathryn’s four decades at Hartlepool’s Marks & Spencer store

Kathryn celebrates 40 years of working for M&S with her daughter Leanne.

Kathryn celebrates 40 years of working for M&S with her daughter Leanne.

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It was champagne and canapes for Kathryn Reid as she celebrated becoming one of the longest serving workers with a store giant.

The 56-year-old from Hartlepool has reached 40 years service with Marks & Spencer and was treated to a reception at M&S London headquarters with her youngest daughter, Leanne, 27.

Working at M&S wasn’t supposed to be permanent, but I enjoyed helping customers and meeting different kinds of people so much that I didn’t want to leave

Kathryn Reid

It was Kath’s cousin that first told her M&S was recruiting for its Hartlepool store back in 1974.

Although she was planning on becoming a nurse, she wasn’t yet old enough to apply for the course, so she decided to work with the retailer for a few years - and never looked back.

Kath said: “Working at M&S wasn’t supposed to be permanent, but I enjoyed helping customers and meeting different kinds of people so much that I didn’t want to leave. I take pride in knowing that I’ve played an important role in the shopping experience for our customers and have helped them to find what they need when they come into the store.”

During her forty years at M&S Hartlepool, Kath has been integral to the store’s work within its local community.

As the store’s Plan A Champion, Kath has been responsible for activities ranging from beach cleans to Macmillan’s annual coffee morning, and fundraising for the store’s local charity of the year.

She said: “I like that we are part of the local community and can help support charities important to our employees and customers, like the Alzheimer’s Society. It’s so important that we give back to our area – Marks & Spencer is built on a foundation of giving support to its local community, customers and employees and I love being a part of that.”

Kath said: “I enjoy interacting with my fellow employees and customers and I look for this enthusiasm in new starters – it’s not a quality you can teach.”

When her eldest daughter Louise, now 32, was born, Kath was one of the first in the company to take maternity leave. She returned to work on a part-time basis which helped when her youngest daughter Leanne came along.

She continues to work part-time and now helps look after her three year old grandson, Harry, and 90-year old mother, Joan. Kath added: “A lot has happened during my 40 years of working at M&S and I’ve made so many memories – becoming a wife, mother, grandmother – I don’t think it would have been as easy if I worked anywhere else.”