WHEN Mary Painter took a two-week job offer cleaning Cirencester Police Station in 1972, she had no idea her work would end up spanning more than four decades and catch the eye of Princess Diana.

When colleagues said a fond farewell to the 71-year-old last month she said she had enjoyed meeting such a variety of people over her 40 years.

"In a place like this you meet lots of lovely people, both the police and prisoners who often have their own problems to bare," she said.

The only gap in those 40 years of working was when she broke her leg, which took her two years to recover from. However husband Alister (CORR), 70, stepped in to cover her shifts while she was laid up at home.

Mary said her most memorable shift had been when Princess Diana visited the station in 1985 and commented on how shiny Mary's floors were.

"I went over and over those floors with the polish because she was coming. When she commented on them I was stunned, but very proud," she said.

Supt Jim McCarthy said Mary would be greatly missed and added: "She's almost like an institution.

"It's rare to see someone last 40 years at the same place of work and it just shows the level of her commitment."

Despite retiring Mary is far from ready to put her feet up yet and plans to continue her 20-year work as a parish councillor in Siddington and volunteering at Siddington Church.