After 47 years in the hardware and gardening supplies business Sandra McKerr is preparing to turn her attention towards her own garden.
Sandra joined her late husband David McKerr at his father’s business in 1966 and worked through six decades until her retirement this year.
She said: “When I started on August 8, 1966 it was David’s birthday. We’d met when David and I both worked in JC Patterson’s in Lisburn.
“David took over the business from his father and I joined him.”
McKerr’s was set up by George McKerr in 1933. When Sandra and her husband David joined the business in 1966 the store sold mostly hardware and household goods.
Sandra said: “In the early 70s we got more into the gardening side of things.”
David and Sandra married in 1969 at which time they lived above the shop which was located in High Street (now a derelict building, formerly Connor’s chemist).
Sandra said: “In 1972 there was a bomb which destroyed the flat and the shop. We operated out of a store behind the shop until the shop was rebuilt. It was re-opened on St Patrick’s Day, 1973 by Big T and Linda Jayne.”
With the business back to full strength Sandra and David went on to have two children - Stephen (34) and Jenny (31).
In 1989, McKerr’s moved to its current Union Street site.
Tragedy befell the family in 2007 when Sandra lost her husband David to a cycling accident.
She said: “It has been very, very hard without him. We miss him terribly. Not a day goes by when someone in the shop doesn’t mention him.
“When it happened we were all in a state of shock but poor Stephen had to go back into work and take over David’s role.”
McKerr Home and Garden is now managed by Nigel Carson with Stephen continuing to play a vital role in the family business. Jenny also helps out when she can, as does her husband David and Stephen’s wife Michelle.
Sandra said: “I’ve been blessed with the most loyal and caring staff and you couldn’t wish for more loyal customers. I’d like to thank both the staff and customers for everything over the past 40-odd years.”
Of her retirement she said: “There’s so many different things I want to do.
“There’s a lot of things in the house I want to sort out as well as the garden.
“The plan for retirement is to spend time doing things I want to do.
“It gives me more time to spend with my family including my granddaughter Ephie.”