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Harpenden great-grandad ‘Super Pa’ celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 February 2019

Stuart Bishop from Harpenden, who is celebrating his 100th birthday, with his wife Monica. Picture: Karen Mawer

Stuart Bishop from Harpenden, who is celebrating his 100th birthday, with his wife Monica. Picture: Karen Mawer

Archant

A great-grandfather from Harpenden who set up his own menswear shop is celebrating his 100th birthday.

Stuart Bishop, who lives in Grove Avenue, will celebrate his 100th birthday on Saturday, March 2 at his daughter’s house in Paddock Wood, and made and iced his own birthday fruit cake for the occasion.

He has lived in Harpenden since 1962, when he moved from Barnet with his wife Monica and two young children, Karen and Nick.

After arriving Stuart opened his shop in Wheathampstead, Stuart’s Men’s and Boys Wear, in a property rented from Barclays Bank, and overcame scepticism from the locals to turn it into a successful business.

His daughter, Karen Mawer, said: “In those days, the locals were quite wary of ‘Londoners’ and, rumour had it, they gave him one year before he would fail and give up trading.

“For a few weeks no customers frequented his shop, so he took advantage of any rainy days by lowering the shop canopy outside, so people would shelter beneath it. He would use that opportunity to come outside and get chatting to them.

“He would invite them in to keep warm and dry and assure them they were never under any obligation to purchase anything! Many of them did buy a variety of items and from that point Stuart began to get a really lovely and well-trusted reputation.”

Unfortunately just as business was taking off Barclays wanted their premises back to open a branch in the village, so Stuart had to find an alternative site.

The hardware shop up the road was for sale but was falling apart from both wet and dry rot. Stuart and a friend worked day and night to make the property fit for use.

Karen said: “He would even call to people’s homes and in the evening to help them with made-to-measure suits either to buy or hire. He struck up many great friendships with his customers, many of whom still keep in touch with him today.”

In 1967, Stuart opened an additional branch in Southdown Road, Harpenden, where Lavender and Stone is today, and supplied many local schools with their uniforms. He retired at the age of 72, and still misses his customers and friends.

As well as his wife, who is 12 years younger than him, and two children, Stuart also has three grandchildren; Matthew, Justin and Charlie, and five great-grandchildren.

Karen said: “They call their great-grandad ‘Super Pa’ as no matter what they break Stuart can always repair it.

“Even to this day he works miracles in his workshop and repairs and restores many things for friends and neighbours too. So far he has never lost a challenge!
“His mother, May Bishop, lived until she was 103. It’s fair to say Stuart has fantastic genes!”

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