A fond Falkirk farewell to the Geordie star of DD’s snack van

When the woman behind DD’s snack van in Falkirk’s Bog Road industrial estate decided to call it a day after 16 years she thought that would be the end of the story.

Dawn Shirra is a Geordie who has lost nothing of her beguiling Tyneside accent after a lifetime in Falkirk, and - though she didn’t know it - customers thought her style of service was a bit special too.

Her daughter, Sarah Hart, said the community of workers in firms dotted around the estate were distraught at the fact she was leaving.

It was more than just the sudden loss of that prized roll and sausage that concerned them, because - as one local worker told us - Dawn brightened everyone’s day.

The “DD’s” name comes from a TV series which featured a female character with her hair in bunches - which became Dawn’s informal nickname when she launched the venture all those years ago.

The van soon earned a reputation for being above-average in every respect, and went on to win a large - even adoring - cliente.

Dawn clearly has an approach to “customer interface” of the sort you don’t learn at night school, and over these many years has made many friends.

So, bowing to popular demand, Sarah set about organising a surprise farewell party for Dawn’s last day on duty.

Dozens of people arrived for the lunchtime do, along with flowers, chocolate, wine and cards - and some more people who couldn’t make it during the lunch break turned up later.

Dawn, predictably, was overwhelmed by the whole experience, having expected simply to lock up and move on.

“I was completely blown away”, she said. “I hadn’t expected anyone to think so much of a van selling rolls and coffees, and it suddenly became a very emotional day.

“But it was really amazing, and I can’t thank people enough. I felt like the James Stewart character in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, when everything comes out all right in the end”.

Knowing how much her venture meant to people is something she will treasure, as she ponders what sort of job she’d like to do next.

“I’m not leaving Falkirk”, says the adopted Bairn. “It’s my home, and I’ll be looking for something I can do from here - just as soon as I’ve had a holiday”.

She hasn’t had a proper break for years, and is hugely looking forward to a family wedding in Florence.

“Then I’m going to hit the ground running and look for a new opportunity,” she says.

With such a stellar reputation for above-the-ordinary customer service. not to mention her catering experience, that may not be too hard to find.