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Last day . . . Doreen McMullan (left) will be missed by manager Delwyn Cox and her Trade Aid colleagues after decades of service. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

One of Oamaru’s most devoted volunteers has closed the till for the last time.

Doreen McMullan has spent nearly 28 years working at the Trade Aid shop – since it opened in November 1991.

Having reached the age of 87, she is relinquishing her Monday afternoon slot behind the counter.

Mrs McMullan was reluctant to have any fuss made, although she was looking forward to a high tea being held at a co-worker’s home next Monday afternoon. The time was chosen specially, to give her an alternative activity when she would usually head to the shop for her weekly duty.

Manager Delwyn Cox said Mrs McMullan used to work two days a week at Trade Aid, and whenever anyone was away she would fill in for them.

“She never missed a beat,” Mrs Cox said.

Mrs McMullan said she liked the way Trade Aid sent all its takings to the people who had made the products, rather than supporting a lot of administrators.

“They’re not taking a cent out of it.”

The merchandise had changed a lot over the years, from mainly “plain” to today’s colourful array.

Meeting and serving customers was a favourite aspect, along with making lifelong friends with the other volunteers. Many have sent messages to wish her well in her retirement.

Speaking of which, it was only in recent years that Mrs McMullan hung up her apron at the Peter Pan Bakery. She had been there for some 30 years, starting at the Tees St premises before moving to the Eden St site.

The habit of getting up at 3.30am has proved difficult to break.

“I still wake up at that time.”

Mrs McMullan likes baking and giving her sweet treats to others.

“She has a very kind heart,” Mrs Cox said.

Providing the supper for Oamaru line dancing gatherings has become a specialty that Mrs McMullan is continuing. Dancers from other towns make a point of coming to Oamaru for the supper alone, Mrs Cox said.

Plum puddings are another signature item, using her mother’s old recipe.

“I love making plum duffs,” Mrs McMullan said.

Her role with Trade Aid was acknowledged with a letter from chief executive Geoff White.

“Your contribution over many years has enabled our producers to make changes they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to consider,” he wrote.

“I am always encouraged and enthused in seeing such commitment and dedication and it does give me a great sense of purpose. Once again, thank you and enjoy your ‘retirement’.”