A chance friendship struck between a Steyning care home resident and a local tailor has resulted in an unexpected job offer.
Val Lynch, 85, was first introduced to award-winning stylist, Igor Srzic-Cartledge, when she and her fellow residents at Croft Meadow care home were invited to his tailor shop, Dandylion Style, on Steyning’s High Street, to enjoy lunch.
The luncheons are now a monthly outing for residents of the care home, which specialises in providing nursing and residential care for the frail elderly alongside those living with dementia.
It was during a lunch outing that Igor recognised Val’s interest and knowledge in fashion and retail, so much so that he offered her the opportunity to volunteer in his shop, which provides bespoke tailoring for ladies and gentlemen.
Val enjoyed her first day, which consisted of stocktaking and discussing sales techniques with Igor.
Val, who has lived at the Shaw healthcare-run home since 2015, was born in Streatham in south London and, at the age of 18, got a job at the Hounslow branch of international fashion retailer, C&A.
Val’s passion for fashion thrived and she was offered the opportunity of training new cashiers across the company’s UK stores.
Val recalled: “I loved the experience and always stayed in the best hotels. My favourite was the Holiday Inn in Plymouth.”
Igor, who has appeared in Vogue magazine and whose designs are a regular feature at global fashion events from New York to Milan, commented: “I really wanted to help Val get back into something she had enjoyed in the past, and help her feel valued for those years of expertise.
“It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas around with and to help in practical ways around the store.
“I love being based in a community like Steyning.
“Helping Val and the other ladies to enjoy themselves is a great way of giving something back.
“This is quite a new experience for the both of us, and we are still learning how to best help each other.”
Shaw’s area manager, Clare Gibson, added: “We cannot thank Igor enough for what he does.
“We work hard to find activities that the residents love, and for Val to have the opportunity to be involved in the shop is wonderful.
“All of our residents look forward to their monthly lunch at Dandylion Style and the time spent there is filled with non-stop chatting and laughter.
“Keeping strong links with the community is important to us and we want the residents to feel they are a part of it.”