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Hello, Dolly! How the world has changed since world’s oldest barmaid pulled her first pint

Dolly Saville at her 100th birthday party

Dolly Saville at her 100th birthday party

Not many of us could recall a time when a pint of the good stuff cost as little as 8d (3.5p), but that’s how much a tipple would set you back when the world’s oldest barmaid began her career in 1940.

It was just after the outbreak of the First World War when Dolly Saville, who turned 100 on Saturday, began working as a barmaid at the Red Lion in Wendover aged 26.

In the 77 years she’s been serving the punters, the great, great grandmother has seen the world change beyond all recognition.

Born in 1914, just two years afters the sinking of the Titanic, Dolly first worked as a house maid after leaving school aged 14.

She married in her teens, but her life changed when war broke out and her husband signed up to the RAF. The young mother found herself having to get a job to support her family, and happened to be walking past the Red Lion on Wendover High Street one day when she was collared by the landlord.

He persuaded her to give it a shot, even though she was nervous about giving the wrong change, and she’s never looked back.

When Dolly first began working, Winston Churchill was in office at 10 Downing Street, a loaf of bread cost 6d (2.5p), petrol cost 24p a gallon and people were just getting to grips with ration books.

A resident of the village since the age of three, Dolly has become an institution thanks to her refusal to give up work despite being well past retirement age.

She still clocks in for three lunchtime shifts a week and insists keeping active is her secret. She said: “I love my work and I love the people. It keeps me going and it stops me sitting around.”

During her seven decades of service Dolly has rubbed shoulders with a host of famous faces, including James Bond hunk Pierce Brosnan, and wartime crooner Vera Lynn, and made tea and toast for former Prime Minister Edward Heath.

She said: ‘I worked in all three bars and over the years I’ve also cooked in the kitchen, done the bedrooms, the reception and the teas. I’ve done the lot.

‘It’s always been great fun and sometimes after a long shift I would be tired but we would go out dancing.’

On Saturday, the village threw a party for the centenarian at her beloved Red Lion pub with live music, dancing and celebrations throughout the afternoon.

To watch a video of Dolly’s special day, click here.

 

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