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I have worked in retail for the past 36 years in one form or another. Merchandiser, shop assistant, buyer, Manager, area manager and shop owner. I have met and worked with many different people from all walks of life. In fact, that is how Sue and I met many years ago. 
Ten of those years were spent working at Laura Ashley where again I met some of my dearest friends and have some of my fondest memories. When the Laura Ashley shop in Ipswich closed on the 24thAugust 2015 and we were all made redundant it was a very sad day for us all. 
Established in 1953 by Laura and Bernard Ashley printing fabric from their kitchen table, Laura Ashley, a fashion designer from Wales, became a household name. In the 1960’s she expanded into fashion design, I am sure there are many of us who have owned a Laura Ashley floral dress at some point in our lives. I can even remember my first one. Thankfully there are no pictures of me wearing it! 
Laura Ashley opened her first shop in 1961 at the age of 35 years; unfortunately it has taken me a little bit longer! 
I was recently invited to join a group of people who have worked for Laura Ashley over the years to share their stories and pictures. One of the things that was very apparent from the stories and anecdotes I read, is just how strong the friendships and bonds are in these groups across the whole company. 
My Laura Ashley colleagues became my extended family and we have seen each other through many happy times and some very sad times. Births, deaths and marriages and many more things in-between! So many good times and stories that we share and are still sharing many years later. 
I would like to wish all the Laura Ashley staff who have just lost their jobs, (many of you who have worked there for a lot of years) all the very best of luck for the future. 
Thank you Laura Ashley for the experience, good times and lifelong friendships. 
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