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Retire? I'm only 89! There's no stopping Irene who still has TWO jobs.

Byline: CATHRINA HULSE cathrina.hulse@reachplc.com

AT THE grand old age of 90 you might well be forgiven for putting your feet up.

Just don't tell Solihull supergran Irene Grice because, as she approaches her 90th birthday in February, she doesn't just have a job - she has TWO of them.

What's more, supermarket worker and cleaner Irene Grice has no plans to slow down.

She's had her fair share of setbacks, including a broken hip and skin cancer in the past 12 months.

Irene also battled ovarian cancer 26 years ago.

But she's now back on her feet after the all-clear from doctors, cheering up her customers at the bakery in Morrisons supermarket in George Road, Solihull, four mornings a week.

Then she also has a cleaning job at Solihull Council House across three evenings.

"I've always worked," says indefatigable Irene. "I've always been with people and I've always had more than enough to do.

"I can't sit in a chair, I like to be doing something.

"The only time I had time off was when I took three months off after having my son David, and when I had ovarian cancer."

"I didn't retire at 60, because when I started work 74 years ago I didn't earn enough to pay into a pension. My weekly wage was PS1 2s 6d. "My husband, who was in the Army during the Second World War and serving in India, Malaya and Singapore, had been ill for a long time.

"I needed the money. I didn't go to the Government for any handouts - and I never have since.

"The help of God and sheer determination and willpower has kept me going."

The great-grandma was one of ten children and grew up in extreme poverty in Birmingham's Acocks Green during the 1930s.

"I was one of those children issued with free Birmingham Mail boots once a year.

"They were a size too big and packed with newspaper so they would last a year," she recalls.

"I have worked all my life. If you didn't work, you didn't eat. No benefits in those days."

Irene married her brother's best friend Horace on August 20, 1949, and has one son called David.

She remained happily married for 44 years until Horace's death in 1993 from a stroke.

The pensioner amazingly still has time for hobbies and enjoys gardening and decorating. She also collects funds for the Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal - and has done so for the past 35 years.

Irene's only son David can hardly keep up with the powerhouse pensioner. The 62-year-old has himself recently retired, although he still works part-time as a driver for Johnsons Coaches, as well as doing some canvassing.

"I think I've inherited my mother's traits," he laughs. "She's a very strongwilled lady. I love her to bits but she can be a handful! People say to me 'Why do you let your mother do two jobs?' and I say 'If you can stop her, then the best of luck! '" The family live close to Widney Manor station with Irene in a selfcontained annexe.

David, a dad of two sons and now a grandfather, says his mum started work at the age of 14 in grocer George Mason's, then went on to manage a cake shop in Mell Square called Elizabeth the Chef for many years.

"She then worked at a bakery in what was Safeways in George Road, which is now Morrisons," he adds.

Liz French, personnel manager at Morrisons Solihull says: "Irene has been with us for 23 years. Customers and colleagues love her because she is really bubbly and chatty."

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Irene Grice at the Morrisons supermarket in Solihull and (below left) charming a customer
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Publication:Solihull News (Solihull, Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 21, 2018
Words:620
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