A "pillar of the community" celebrated 40 years of working in a Whitefield pharmacy on Sunday.

Yvonne Monk, who started working at Barash Pharmacy when she was 17, marked the landmark after a surprise staff gathering.

@theburytimes Congratulations Yvonne 💙 #Bury #Whitefield #Pharmacy #News #Community #surprise #health ♬ On Top Of The World - Imagine Dragons

Colleagues congregated on Bury New Road on Friday, August 4, to surprise Yvonne with gifts and praise to make her fourth decade in the business which fell on Sunday, August 6.

Yvonne, who also met her husband at the pharmacy, said she had only intended to work there for six months and had hoped to get an "office job".

Bury Times: (2010 image) From left, Marilyn Barash, Yvonne Monk, Freddie Barash and Julie Hill, shop manager(2010 image) From left, Marilyn Barash, Yvonne Monk, Freddie Barash and Julie Hill, shop manager (Image: Archive)

She said: “I told my mum, I am not working in a pharmacy, I won't like it, so I joined through a six-month long training scheme and I am still here.

“The original owner, Mr Barash, told me he couldn’t afford to keep me on so I was offered a new position at the pharmacy for the next 12 months and I agreed.”  

Bury Times: Yvonne Monk age 27 Yvonne Monk age 27 (Image: public)

She was on a wage of around £25 a week and soon fell in love with her role and her future husband.

She said: “I had been working here for around 12 months and Mr Barash had a company come from Accrington to alter the shop and one of the men working there ended up being my husband, we have been together for 39 years now.”

Bury Times: Yvonne Monk and staff at the surprise Yvonne Monk and staff at the surprise (Image: NQ)

Having told her colleagues about the upcoming anniversary, they had initially pretended to forget and insisted it was the following week.

But little did Yvonne know that they were in fact well aware of the special day and had plans of their own to surprise her with.

Ruth Holt, one of the pharmacy's delivery drivers, said: “It is a monumental number of years of fabulous commitment, local community service, pure dedication to her role. She’s an absolute star to be honest.

Bury Times: Yvonne Monk's surprise cake Yvonne Monk's surprise cake (Image: Newsquest)
“The head office and Barash staff and delivery drivers have had a whip round are aiming to surprise her with her ‘thank you’ as she finishes work.”

With flowers, presents and a cake with her photo on, colleagues surprised Yvonne just before her shift came to an end.

She said: “I thought they had forgotten and I feel dead emotional now.

Bury Times: Yvonne MonkYvonne Monk (Image: Newsquest)

“There have been so many changes here over the years, I remember having to handwrite prescriptions and labels, but I love it.

“You didn’t expect this, you just come to work every day and don’t think anything of it but the staff here are amazing, it's brilliant we are like a little family.”