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‘Pocket rocket’, 73, gets the job

Wendy Donnelly with Challenge Greytown boss Lindsey Ward. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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After being made redundant from a long-term job due to covid-19, a Carterton woman has taken on a new role at the age of 73.

A couple of months ago, Wendy Donnelly landed the job as a gas station attendant. The employer thought the position would suit an older person.

The result was a “win-win”. Donnelly has been happily pumping gas and serving customers at the shop for six weeks now and says she “loves it”.

Donnelly was made redundant after working at Copthorne Solway Park for 29 years. She followed the Fresh Choice Facebook page, saw the advertisement and thought, “Hey, this is me, I can do that”.

“It felt right, so I applied. I am a great believer in that,” she said.

“You go for what you want, just do it, I say.”

Challenge Greytown was owned by husband and wife team Chris and Lindsay Ward. Lindsay said she often found the semi-retired “seniors” adaptable and reliable employees.

“Older folk can be flexible with hours and happy to be on call, and this is what we need in our pool of staff.”

She said her older staff brought life experience to the job, which meant they were very good at helping people and understanding their needs.

“We have three staff here that have worked at Challenge for over 15 years. Wendy fits right in already as she understands the Wairarapa community and customer service that makes us a bit different than some other service stations,” Lindsay said.

When Donnelly started, many customers were thrilled to see her. Donnelly said it was a bit like being found in the “lost and found”. Donnelly was born in Carterton, married there, and raised her family there.

She was well known around town.

“Customer service is a big part of the job, and I love seeing people and helping them,” she said.

“I am on call and that is fine. I bring a happy attitude to the job and hope that no matter what kind of a day a person has had, they get a smile and a helping hand from me here,” she said.

Her boss called her the “pocket rocket”.

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