A Whitchurch woman has completed 40 years’ service working for the Grocott family, the former owners of Grocontinental.

Diane Nelson joined Grocontinental, now renamed as AGRO Merchants Group, in 1979 at the age of 16 to take up the position of telephonist and receptionist, but soon demonstrated her huge potential to boss Ray Grocott and went on to fulfil a high-flying career in a number of senior roles with the company.

These included managing the set-up of the first frozen warehouse on the company’s site in Whitchurch in 1996 and later, as customer service manager, she directed a team of 14 people.

More recently, Diane has worked directly for the Grocott family providing business and administrative support.

To celebrate her momentous achievement, Diane was treated to a party for her family and friends which was held at Prees Cricket and Recreation Club.

Ray, who employed the young apprentice back in 1979, explained that he made a very wise decision in getting Diane on-board.

“My first encounter with Diane was when she sold me a pair of shoes when she was working in Bennett’s Shoe Shop in Whitchurch,” said Ray.

"A few months later she joined us to look after our reception and telephones at our office which was then in Higher Heath.

“She proved to be a real find and she has been able to turn her hand to many jobs. Diane is highly capable, has a completely can-do attitude to her work and is utterly loyal. She came to us at a young age with very few formal qualifications, but quickly showed her star quality and has held positions with huge responsibility over the years.

"David, Linda and I have been extremely lucky to have kept her interested for the last 40 years. We are immensely proud of her and we look forward to working with her for many years to come.”

Diane added that she was thankful for the faith shown in her and admits her working career has flown by.

“It’s really hard to believe that I have been working for 40 years – the time has flown by," she said.

"Working at Grocontinental and for the Grocott family has been a real adventure, and particularly being part of the massive growth of the company from the small team I joined back in the late 70s to the large and successful company it is today.

“I’ve worked with many great people and had lots of good times and plenty of laughs too. I’m very grateful for the faith that Ray, David and Linda have shown in me and for giving me so many different opportunities.

"The pace has always been exciting and fast and I don’t have any plans to slow down just yet.”