99 years & still not out

Two friends have clocked up an astonishing 99 years between them working in the same shop.

Audrey Dickson was only 16 when she joined what is one of Scotland’s oldest family businesses in 1970.Doreen Sage was just 18 years old when she was hired by Brooks Shops in Lanark, South Lanarkshire in 1965 – the same year the mini skirt first became fashionable.

The women, who are aged 70 and 63 respectively, said they “have had a ball” over the years, becoming lifelong friends and have no plans to retire any time soon!

Managing director, Alastair Brooks, said the staff members, whom he has known his entire life, continued to be “real assets” to the family firm, which was established in 1853.

Doreen, who works in Menswear, said: “It is incredible to think that I have worked for the same company for 52 years.

“It has just gone like a flash, I can’t believe it to be honest.

“Over the years I have made some nice friends and I have got to know all the family.

“I have worked for Alexander Brooks, whose son Robert took over the clothing side of the business and now his son Alastair and daughter Gillian run it.

“There have been happy times and sad times but overall I have thoroughly enjoyed working for Brooks which is a great company.”

Despite challenging times for the retail trade and changing shopping habits, Doreen of Lanark said she firmly believed there was still a place for family firms on the high street.

“It is a very modern business with an online shop but attentive personal service is the hallmark of Brooks,” she added.

“The personal touch makes a real difference and people appreciate that.”

“Working for the same company for 47 years is a very long time but it has gone very quickly because it has been good fun,” she added.Audrey, who lives just outside Lanark and manages the firm’s Womenswear shop, said she enjoyed her job immensely.

“Doreen was here when I started and she has become a lifelong friend.

“We have had laughter, we have had tears and it is just marvellous.”

Audrey said she remembered her first day in the job like it was yesterday.

“I was extremely nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and walked round the block four times before finally going in,” she recalled.

“The manageress at the time was very old fashioned and wore a pleated skirt but was very friendly and welcoming, as were all the staff.

“I had just come out of college with a sitting guild in retail distribution and was looking for a job.

“I sent letters round many of the shops in the town.

“Robert Brooks picked up on it and at the interview he asked me if I spoke any languages and admitted he was looking to hire a boy.

“But he obviously saw something in me and I have been with Brooks ever since.”

Brooks own four shops – Menswear, Shoes & Womenswear in Lanark and a furnishings shop in nearby Carluke, which is run by Alex Brooks.

Alastair Brooks, 42, said: “It is incredible to think that Doreen and Audrey have worked for Brooks for a combined 99 years.

“They are hardworking, experienced and dedicated and have helped dress generations of men and women across Lanarkshire.

“It has been a real joy for me and my sister to work with them, because we have known them our whole lives, which is really quite amazing!”