To Peggie McClean, they’re not hotel clients, but lifelong friends.
Coconut Court’s longest serving employee regularly exchanges letters with guests – she has been writing to some for almost three decades. Some even visit her at home.
Peggie was given her first job by the hotel founder more than 30 years ago.
Friends From Across The World
That day, October 31st, 1987, is etched on her memory.
“My first job was in a garment factory and then Charlie Blades took me on here,” she said. “I’ve been very happy at Coconut Court.”
“I have lots of friends from among the guests. I correspond with them. They’re from all over… New Zealand, England and Canada. They write to me at my home. Some I’ve known for 28 or 29 years and they still keep in touch.”
No Stranger To Hard Work
With three children, five grandchildren and a fulltime job at the busy south coast hotel, the laundry attendant is not afraid of hard work.
Peggie looks after two of those grandchildren and is carer for her elderly mother who is sight impaired.
As well as working in the laundry, Peggie was a room attendant where she enjoyed more contact with guests.
She said: “I used to do the rooms and I would get to know the guests. I don’t have much contact with the guests now… I miss that.
“Now the laundry goes out, but I used to have to do it all myself. Wash, press and fold everything. It’s still hard work. We have to count everything and make sure it’s recorded.”
A Quiet Village In St George
With her responsibilities at home, she doesn’t get much spare time. Her faith is important – she’s a member of a local church – but family matters.
“My grandchildren, they’re my heartstrings,” she said. “I’m taking care of two of them at the moment.”
Peggie lives in a quiet village in the inland parish of St George. “We all look after each other there,” she said.
So family is first, but friends clearly come a close second, whether they’re neighbours in St George or visitors from much, much further away.