A HEREFORDSHIRE family business is celebrating 50 years of trading, paying tribute to the life of the woman who ran it for the majority of that time.

M E Fletcher newsagents, based in Leominster was named after its joint founder Mary Elizabeth Fletcher, who passed away in February at the age of 89.

The shop held a celebratory event on Saturday May 28 to mark its half century, inviting customers, family members and employees who have been part of its journey.

Mrs Fletcher opened the shop in 1972 with her husband Jim, after she had taken on delivering papers a couple of years earlier.

The shop has been supplying the people of Leominster with a seven day a week service selling and delivering newspapers, magazines, tobacco and confectionery ever since.


After running the shop with her husband Jim for five years, he passed away in 1977 and son Stephen, then 19, stepped in to help his mum run the business.

He said: "When I left school, I wanted to be a teacher, but after dad died I knew that I had to help mum with the shop because it was everything to her and she wouldn't have been able to do everything on her own, even though she would've given it a good go."

Mary Elizabeth Fletcher, who the shop was named after.

Mary Elizabeth Fletcher, who the shop was named after.

Mr Fletcher stepped in to look after the shop while mum Mary concentrated on distributing papers around the county, even going as far as Ludlow in some cases.

He recalls that after some initial reluctance to start the shop with her husband, it soon became an integral part of her life.

She juggled bringing up her four children with keeping the shop running and devoted all of her time to it.

He said: "The shop was mum's whole life. Rain or shine, she would be out there delivering, she even did it with a broken ankle once.

"I remember the doctors were astounded when mum said she had to finish her round, because she couldn't really walk."

"Speaking about the celebration to mark the shop's 50th anniversary, Mr Fletcher said: "It's an idea we have had for a while to bring everyone together and celebrate."

The only regret I have is that Mum won't be there to celebrate with us all, it doesn't feel quite the same without her."

Mr Fletcher has been running the shop alongside both his mum and his wife Caroline for 45 years and is intent on keeping the family business going.

"To all intents and purposes we are a family business. We have had a few people from outside come in to help out but they have become part of the family aswell," he said.

"I certainly have no intention of retiring any time soon and am looking to carry on for as long as possible."