IRENE Grice is still working at the age of 89 – in TWO jobs.
And it is despite battling with skin cancer and having a hip operation in the past year.
Irene refused to put her feet up when she turned 60 as she didn’t earn enough to pay into her pension.
She started work 74 years ago and now works in Morrisons bakery and cleaning at Solihull council.
The soon to be great-grandmother started at Morrisons in 1995 when she was 66 as a cleaner, but she then moved to the bakery and has been packing, labelling and putting goods out on display.
The Solihull resident started working at the council at a similar time.
It was here where Irene’s hip broke last September and she had a complete hip replacement.
During her recovery she was diagnosed with skin cancer.
She had to undergo two operations, one at Solihull Hospital and one at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
She now has to undergo dermatology tests and is under the care of a Macmillan skin cancer nurse.
But to the amazement of Irene’s family, which includes her son David, two grandsons and expected great-granddaughter, she went back to work just a few weeks ago.
She said: “The help of God and shear determination and willpower has kept me going.
“I needed to be with people, I was getting depressed.”
She said a lot has changed in how shops are run over 74 years when she started work at George Mason Grocery and Provisions in Acocks Green.
She said: “We didn’t have a fridge or a freezer and everything had to be packed by hand, even pepper and spices.
“There wasn’t any sell-by date and we left the cat in at night to catch the mice.”
Since 1983 Irene has been fundraising for the Marie Curie daffodil collection in memory of her family who have died of cancer, and to honour all those who work at the charity.
She has been collecting at Morrisons and during her recovery she visited a few houses each day for donations.
When Irene, who grew up in Acocks Green, isn’t at work she enjoys decorating and the garden.
Irene grew up in the 1930s in extreme poverty and had one pair of shoes a year that were a size too big, packed with newspaper so there was plenty of growing room and would last.
She and her sister were evacuated to Coalville in Leicestershire and stayed with a mining family – they kept in touch after the war and were Irene’s son’s godparents.
Her husband was her brother’s best friend and when he was 18 and called up to serve he asked Irene, then aged 14, to write to him while he was away.
She said like most couples all their falling in love was done through letters and she still has and reads some of them.
The pair got engaged when he returned from India in January 1948 and married in August 1949.