TEARS were shed but there were smiles all round on Friday as a fond farewell was said to a Sudbury stalwart.
Joan Shaw, 65, of Churchill Drive, retired as manager of Hazell Court care home after clocking up 31 years service and was given a surprise party as a send-off.
Current and former colleagues, residents, family and friends gathered to pay tribute to Ms Shaw, who started working at the home in Acton Lane in 1980 as a cleaner.
Speaking on Friday, Ms Shaw said: “It has been brilliant. I knew there was a little something planned but I didn’t expect anything like this – there are staff I worked with here from years and years ago.”
Andrea Hodgkinson, activities co-ordinator at the home, led the tributes.
“She is kind, considerate, she helps with outings, she is just a lovely, lovely person,” she said. “It will be difficult when she’s gone – it won’t feel the same as she has always been around.”
Bunches of flowers and gifts were given to Ms Shaw, who plans to return to the home one day a week as a volunteer.
“I feel happy to be retiring,” she said. “I will miss the residents and staff but I want to travel and go to places I have never been before.
“I am looking forward to not getting up early and being on call, but I will miss everyone as they have been a big part of my life.
Ivy Fitch, who has been a resident at Hazell Court for 11 years, said: “I am so sad to see her go, she’s the best.”