Forecourt sales assistant Elaine Leaney was named as Sales Assistant of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony in London this week, organised by Forecourt Trader’s sister magazine

Convenience Store. The hard-working 79-year-old works for Top 50 independent, the Park Garage Group, at its Total-branded site in Eastern Road, Brighton.

Despite being 80 on her next birthday, Elaine still puts in a full 40 hours a week behind the till – having reluctantly had her hours cut from 60 – although she usually arrives at least half an hour early for each shift.

Described by customers as “unfailingly cheerful” and “always helpful”, her manager Martin Long says that in her 25 years of working at the store he has never seen her in a bad mood, even at 6 o’clock in the morning!

Convenience Store editor David Rees said: "It is more than just the friendliness of her manner which makes Elaine special, she can also take charge of complex and challenging tasks such as managing the news and magazines section of the shop, and dealing with fuel spills while working alone on the forecourt. If she’s at home and one of her colleagues is having a problem at the store, she will think nothing of putting her coat on and walking to the store at any time of day or night to help out.

Receving the award from guest host Anthea Turner, Elaine said: “I love my job. I just like serving customers and communicating with people. I’d rather do that than be at home. My father told me that when you take a job, be the best that you can be. I’ve always followed that. So I’m absolutely thrilled to win. I’ve received a lot of support from my customers and they’re going to be so proud.”