AFTER nearly 40 years as a kitchen designer, Sharon Mawdesley decided to retire.

For the last 15 years she has worked for Bacup-based kitchen, bedroom and bathroom manufacturer J and J Ormerod as Retail Manager at the company's Rossendale Interiors showrooms in Stacksteads.

Sharon, 67, said: “I have decided to retire now because 2020 has made me consider what I want to do and where I want to go and hopefully there are holidays on the horizon.”

She has had a variety of jobs since school from counter clerk at Bolton Post Office to ice cream van driver in the mid-70s, fish and chip shop owner in Rawtenstall to double glazing seller in Asda.

It was her ability to sell that got her noticed when she was head-hunted by Neville Johnson who was setting up Kitchen Challenge, a direct-selling kitchen company, in Manchester.

Sharon said: “He wanted an in-store marketing operation setting up. At that time there were about 30 sales designers and all were men. Neville asked me if I fancied designing kitchens as they had been asked for a female designer several times.

“I was a bit reluctant at first, as this would mean giving up a good basic wage and a company car, but I decided to have a go, commission only. Thanks Neville, it was the best thing I ever did and I have been designing kitchens ever since.”

She has worked for a variety of companies including Magnet, Kingsley Kitchens, Oldham Kitchen Company, Sharps and Betta Bedrooms and with her husband Graham set up their own showroom in Southport called Capricorn Kitchens.

A further four years were spent with Living Design, another direct-selling kitchen company, where Sharon took on a managerial role. The Dublin trips and Gleneagles parties were fun, but with responsibility came anti-social hours including 2am calls from designers.

It was after a stint running the direct sales team at Norwood Interiors in Brighouse, one of JJO's suppliers, that she spotted the job at Rossendale Interiors.

She said: “So my final move was to Rossendale Interiors to run the Stacksteads and initially Blackpool showrooms. I have been here for more than 15 years and this has been my most enjoyable and fulfilling time.

“We moved back to Rossendale nearly five years ago, to Lumb, again a good move. I have loved working for Rossendale Interiors and have met some wonderful people.”

Although Sharon will no longer be at showrooms designing kitchens, her daughter Suzy Halcrow has followed in mum's footsteps and is also a designer at JJO.

The new retail manager is Michael Skelchar.