Margaret McKnight: Retiring as a barmaid at 82!

DEDICATED SERVICE: Margaret McKnight, right, is retiring at the age of 82 as barmaid at the Mitre Hotel in Ramsey and is pictured with the pub's outgoing landlords Gilbert and Jane O'Sullivan. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM120405 (31).

DEDICATED SERVICE: Margaret McKnight, right, is retiring at the age of 82 as barmaid at the Mitre Hotel in Ramsey and is pictured with the pub's outgoing landlords Gilbert and Jane O'Sullivan. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM120405 (31).

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IN the context of news of rising retirement ages and discussion surrounding MHKs’ pensions, the story of 82-year-old Ramsey barmaid Margaret McKnight, who has quietly racked up 66 years of employment, is all the more impressive.

Margaret is finally due to retire on Wednesday, as ownership of The Mitre in Ramsey, where she has worked since 1987, changes hands, so it is fitting that her last week behind the bar has been complemented by a customer service nomination in this year’s Pride in Mann Awards.

It is appropriate to note that modest Margaret took some arm-twisting to agree to having an article written about her – let alone pose for a photograph – in the interests of ‘not making a fuss’. Indeed, her boss at The Mitre, Jane O’Sullivan, remembers: ‘When she heard about our plans for her 80th birthday, she said “If you do me a party I will walk out!”’

But it was no trouble finding people with kind words to say.

Granddaughter Melissa told us: ‘She is so modest, friendly, caring and smiles to everyone. She would give her arm and leg to help anyone. She lives outside town, (in Greenlands Avenue, off Lezayre Road) but walks to work and walks back. She’s always early, and knows everyone’s drink before they ask. She deserves an award to celebrate her time working in the community.’

Jane, who is retiring herself this week along with her husband Gil, is full of respect for her long-serving employee:

‘She’s worked for our family for 25 years. She’s the best employee you could ever wish for, 100 per cent reliable. She’s lovely, but she’s always run a good bar; she’s not afraid to tell people to mind their language!’

Jane added: ‘You wouldn’t put her at 82 – she’s absolutely marvellous. She still drives and travelled on her own to see her son in Asia in December. I hope I’m that agile in my 80s!’

Margaret could have carried on working, but it was always agreed that when Gil and Jane retired, the time would be right for her too.

She grew up in Maughold and her job after leaving school was as a machinist making suits and overcoats at the Erskine Clothing Factory in Laxey, in the building now referred to as the ‘pipe factory’. Her first taste of bar work was at the Snaefell in Ramsey in her early 20s, followed by stints at fellow Ramsey pubs the Prince of Wales and the Viking Hotel.

Margaret had cut down her shifts at The Mitre to four a week, but always made sure she was in on Tuesdays to watch the darts.

On the secret to her longevity she simply answers: ‘I enjoyed it.’

Melissa shed more light on what will be a big change for her gran.

‘She loves working, but it’s probably time,’ she said. ‘She’ll find it hard at first, but she’s looking forward to seeing more of her family. Most of the time I have to go to the pub to see her!’

Jane says people like Margaret are what she will miss most about The Mitre, but agrees the time is right for her favourite barmaid to have a rest.

‘It’s part of her life, but she’s looking forward for her first summer in 25 years doing what she wants to do,’ Jane said. ‘She’s a very good friend of my mum – I’m hoping to see lots of them both!’

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Pride in Mann is an awards scheme from Isle of Man Newspapers and Flybe which aims to recognise unsung heroes in the Manx community.

The competition sees the public invited to nominate people they feel are worthy recipients of an award across 10 categories. Each person nominated will be recognised in one of our newspapers and later there will be a public vote to find the categories’ winners.

The categories for this year’s Pride in Mann awards are: Promotion of Manx Culture, Performer of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Sporting Acheivement, Young Person of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Linking with Schools, Customer Service and Family Business.

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Who will you nominate?

You can find a downloadable nomination form by clicking this link.

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