Beds, Herts & Bucks

Wendover Red Lion party for 'world's oldest barmaid' Dolly

Dolly Saville
Image caption Dolly Saville started working at the Red Lion Hotel before World War Two

A Buckinghamshire inn has held a party to mark the 100th birthday of a barmaid who still works three shifts a week.

Dolly Saville, who arrived in Wendover aged three, has worked at the Red Lion Hotel in the town for about 75 years.

Her birthday was marked by an Easter fete, including a barbecue and live music, on Friday.

Manager Martin Howard, who believes Mrs Saville is the oldest barmaid in the world, said the hotel "owed her something".

Image copyright contributed
Image caption Fuller's dray horses attended Dolly Saville's party

Mrs Saville, who started working at the hotel before World War Two, has served a number of well-known people including ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyne, footballer Sir Stanley Matthews and former prime minister Sir Edward Heath.

'Second home'

But the great, great grandmother said she needed persuading when her first boss asked if she would like to work there.

"I said 'no, I don't think so, I've never worked in a bar before' and I never thought any more about it," she said.

Later he asked her to "give it a try" so she started washing up glasses in the saloon bar and was asked to start serving after about six weeks.

"I said I thought I would give people the wrong change, but I started to serve and I quite enjoyed it," she said.

Image copyright Tony Leemans
Image caption Mrs Saville said her family know "she wouldn't listen to them" if they asked her to retire
Image copyright other
Image caption Famous customers served by Mrs Saville include Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Edward Heath

"I meet lovely people who come in here, and have a laugh with them."

'I won't retire'

Mrs Saville said she believed working kept her feeling young and she had no intention of retiring.

"[If anyone asked] I wouldn't listen to them and they know I wouldn't - this is my second home," she said.

"I don't think they would give me any more shifts now, but I would say yes if they did."

The party was held on her 19 April birthday.

Mr Howard said: "I think we owe her something and wanted to make it special and something Wendover itself was proud of.

"You get people who have been coming in here 50 to 60 years who basically come in to say hello to her."

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