A long-serving member of the Ottery St Mary Garden Centre team is retiring after 24 years in the Tills department.
Mary Harrison, who is 66, joined Otter in 1997. She and husband Peter had relocated from Kent with their employer London and Manchester before Mary left work to raise the family. Once the children were in school, she looked for a part-time job.
Living in Ottery and with friends already working at Otter, it seemed sensible to apply to the garden centre. After being interviewed Mary started working two days a week on the tills. “It was in the springtime, and we were really busy. Almost straight away I was asked to work five days a week!”
Mary remained in the Tills department throughout her career at Otter, progressing to Tills team leader. “I always really enjoyed the tills, the interaction with the customers and the other team members.”
Her team have been known to play jokes on Mary. “On one occasion they put a cuckoo clock behind my desk, which went off every 15 minutes. Another time they decorated a cow’s head ornament with a straw hat and a sign around its neck, saying Mary Moo! And then there was the full size witch which they attached my name badge to and propped up at my desk.”
Mary says that the happy, family atmosphere is what she’ll miss most about working at Otter. “It’s always been a family business and it’s been lovely to see the family’s children grow up during the time I have been there.”
Mary was pivotal to the garden centre’s charity fundraising, co-ordinating between the chosen charity and team members. “One of the most successful single fundraisers I helped to organise was the 2019 Christmas bingo and raffle, which raised over £1,000 for Hospiscare.”
As part of Mary’s send off she was presented with a wonderful cake featuring a marzipan character figure of Mary!
Although Mary will miss the regular customers she’s met over the years, she is looking forward to spending time with her husband and their four grandchildren who live in London and Surrey, as well as enjoying more visits to the theatre which she really loves.
Everyone at the garden centre wishes Mary a very happy retirement!