March 6, 2015 – As far as anyone knows, Dolly Saville was the oldest working barmaid in the world. She died February 26 less than a year after she celebrated her centenary.
Dolly started at the Red Lion Hotel in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, U.K. in 1940 and held the job for 74 years. Until as recently as six years ago, she worked six days a week and loved every minute of it. Since that time she worked three days a week.
In 1940 Britain was at war, FDR was President, Winston Churchill Prime Minister and King George VI sat on the British throne. The Red Lion Hotel dates back to the 16th century. When it closed for renovations about five years ago, Dolly worked at the King and Queen pub, also in Wendover, until the Red Lion reopened six months later. In her nearly 75 years on the job, she only had two weeks of sick leave.
Her 100th birthday was a huge celebration for the whole town that was covered not only by the British press but European publications also.
Dolly served many celebrities including Pierce Brosnan and Elizabeth Taylor as well as former British Prime Minister Edward Heath for whom she made tea and toast on a chilly afternoon.
Dolly had two daughters, three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter. She had no plans to retire and always said she would keep working until she died.
The record for barmaid longevity was previously held by Hideko Arima who worked at a bar in the Ginza district of Tokyo until she died in 2003 after 52 years at the bar. She was 101.