AFTER nearly four decades in business, Peebles shop owner Irene Ruffell is saying a fond farewell to staff and customers.

Irene has spent more than half of her life serving the town after she, and late husband Stuart, opened up their Spar grocery store in Rosetta Road in 1983.

Three years later they opened the Glen Road branch.

And they successfully ran both shops before selling the Rosetta Road store in 2005.

Stuart died in 2008, and Irene credits her loyal staff who she calls her “friends” for comforting her through this difficult time in her life.

Recalling some of their fond and funny memories over the years, Irene and Stuart did more for their customers than bag groceries.

Irene said: “Many years ago when we were at Rosetta Road we had to help a wee old lady. The clip to the suspender belt of her stockings snapped."

Luckily Irene managed to save the pensioner’s modesty by fashioning together a clip to fix the wardrobe malfunction.

“On another occasion we fixed a hearing aid for an elderly man who came into the shop. All part of the service!” she joked.

The couple loved helping their customers, and on many occasions, when elderly residents wondered into the shop from Dunwhinny Care Home, they would personally walk them back to the nursing home complex.

Irene added: “Some of our older customers will simply pop in for a wee chat when they were feeling lonely and it was nice to be there for them all of these years."

Asked what she plans to do in her retirement, Irene said: “Absolutely nothing – for a while anyway! But I’m sure I’ll be called upon for babysitting duties as I have two grandchildren and another on the way.”

The 63-year-old had planned to jet off on holiday with family to celebrate her retirement, but COVID-19 meant they had to cancel their plans.

As for a socially distanced retirement celebration, Irene said: “I’ve nothing planned. I’ll just slip out of the door quietly I think.”

Irene is passing the shop keys to Adam Purves Galashiels Ltd on Wednesday, August 5.

As she closes the shop door and opens one to a new chapter in her life, we asked Irene how she feels about saying farewell.

She said: “I feel quite emotional. There will definitely be a tear in my eye as my memories and my life with Stuart are in that shop. But it’s time, time to say goodbye and thank you to everyone for their custom and friendship over the last 37 years.”