Branscombe woman opens Exeter’s new John Lewis

A Branscombe woman’s seven-decade relationship with a department store led her to cut the ribbon at a new branch in Exeter last Friday.

John Lewis bosses invited Joan Monaghan to the grand opening after she told them of her times working at the shop in the 1940s and 50s.

She worked there from the age of 14, and kept her rulebook and a staff menu all this time – mementos John Lewis managers were delighted to see.

“I never thought I’d be involved with something like this when I started working there,” said the 82-year-old.

The company has always been a part of her life, even educating Joan and her colleagues two days a week after their schooling was interrupted by the war.

“I loved being the centre of attention, it made my life,” she said.

She’s kept the staff literature because from 1944 because she’s a self-confessed hoarder, but they are now with John Lewis archivists in London.

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Joan added: “I always used to ask for a shop in Exeter so it’s my shop – I’ll never be away.”

She opened the store in front of a crowd of thousands, who queued around the block, although she and her husband got a sneak preview last Monday.