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From the archives: Chipper at 100 and still got fish to fry

10 August 2006

Constance Brown, 100, has manned Brown’s fish and chip shop in Pembroke since 1928 and last year was awarded an MBE for services to business and the community, reports Chloe Fox.

Constance Brown, 100, has manned Brown’s fish and chip shop in Pembroke since 1928
Constance Brown, 100, has manned Brown’s fish and chip shop in Pembroke since 1928

The pensioner celebrated her milestone 100th birthday by doing what she does most days of the week - working in the fish and chip shop in Pembroke, Wales that she set up with her husband over 80 years ago.

On the day of her birthday (6th August) she arrived as usual at 9am to open up Brown's Snack Bar, something she does six days a week. The only difference was that the steady stream of customers that filed in was offered a glass of wine and a piece of birthday cake along with their fish and chips.

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A day in the life of working at 100

Every morning at 11.30, six days a week the great-grandmother whose customers know her simply as ‘Connie’ opens for business. On a typical day, Connie arrives at 9am to cut up fish, works for an hour before going home, and then returns at 11am to cook for customers until 2.30pm. She then has another break before returning at 4pm to finish service for the day and close the shop.

“It’s what I love” she says simply. “So why would I want to stop?” With no plans for retirement, Connie – who lives alone and still does all her own cleaning – insists that she will keep going for as long as she’s able.

And the secret to her longevity? “Fish and chips is all I eat. I don’t eat any vegetables at all. So I’m living proof you can eat nothing but fish and chips and still be healthy.”

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Humble beginnings

She opened the café in 1928 with her late husband Sidney who died in 1964 and she says her work has actually got easier “you had to clean the potatoes and chip by hand then” she says.” During the war while her husband was away in the RAF she managed to keep the shop open.

She insists that all the fish and chips her shop sells are still wrapped in newspaper and in 2004 she was crowned ‘Oldest Fish Fryer in Great Britain’ - now she has an MBE to add to her title.

Brown's is also a family affair as it is run by Connie's son Hilton, his wife Glenys and their son Steve. Connie, who received an MBE for services to business and the community last year, was taken to the nearby Lamphey Court Hotel for a birthday meal on Sunday - the only day in the week the chip shop is closed.

Daughter-in-law Glenys commented: "Working keeps her going. If she was ever to stop, it would finish her. It keeps her mind active, and it's her routine."

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Reaching a centenary

The great-grandmother of four, said: "I'm overwhelmed with it all and can't believe I've reached 100. I am quite happy to work and I'll keep doing it until I can't work any more."

With the Queen still working hard at 81 it can’t be any coincidence that in her Birthday Honour’s List last year, she awarded MBEs to three working pensioners, including Constance, with a combined age of 268.

All three of them appear to agree with Sir John Mills, who died last year, aged 97, and who worked right up to the end of his life. ‘Retirement is a dirty word’ he said.

Written by Chloe Fox

* On 1st September 2006, The story of 101-year-old Buster Martin appeared in the Daily Mail. The paper reported that Mr Martin is still enjoying his part-time job as a van maintenance man and has no plans to quit. He did take a day off recently, to celebrate his 100th birthday. Mr Martin is also a member of the pop group, The Zimmers


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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