Chigwell grocer retires after 45 years on the high street
PUBLISHED: 07:28 12 October 2016 | UPDATED: 07:28 12 October 2016
A high street stalwart is hanging up his apron for the last time on Saturday.
Allan Neat has worked at A&C Fruiterers, Manford Way, Chigwell, for more than 45 years, managing the premises for the last two decades.
But now, after countless 2am starts to pick up only the freshest produce every day, the 60-year-old green grocer is retiring, much to the sadness of his regular customers.
“If you’re going to do this trade properly you have to devote your life to it, and there comes a time when the early starts get the better of you and you start thinking you need some time to live your life.
“The hardest thing for me is going to be not seeing my staff and customers everyday, because for 45 years, from the moment I got into work in the morning to the moment I left to go home my day would be spent laughing and talking.
“My staff and my customers have all been tremendous and I just want to take this opportunity to thank them massively for their support.”
Allan plans to spend his well-earned time off trying new experiences.
“Since I announced I was leaving everyone’s been asking me what my hobbies are and to be honest I’ve never had the time to try any - for 45 years my hobby has been sleeping!
“I know it’s going to be a little bit of a culture shock having some time to myself, but I’m looking forward to it.”
And Allan, who lives in Chadwell Heath, believes he’s leaving at the right time.
“I’m leaving on a high, but I know that the shop is in capable hands and I wish the new owners the best of luck with it.”
Regular customer John Knight, of New North Road, has been visiting A&C fruiterers once a week since he moved to the area 28 years ago and told the Recorder he would be sad to see Alan go.
“He’s a real, old-fashioned East End shopkeeper and there’s not many of those around anymore what with all the supermarkets.
“He’s easy-going and has been a credit to this area for 45 years.
“He’s a good man and I wish him all the best of luck with whatever he goes on to do. Manford Way will be poorer without him.”
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