Owner of Cotswold antique store shuts up shop aged 99

One of Britain’s oldest shopkeepers has shut up shop for the last time.

Dale House Antiques on Moreton High Street closed for trading for the final time on Monday (March 14).

It also marked the last working day for its owner, 99-year-old Ann Allen.

Her daughter, Elisabeth Gardner, said: “Everyone who knows Annie describes her as a lovely and amazing person.

“Not many people contemplate taking on a new business career at the age of 76. Fewer still will continue to run a business until the ripe old age of 99.

“This amazing achievement must surely make her one of Britain’s oldest shopkeepers?”

Born in Coventry on February 22, 1923, Ann attended Stoke Park Grammar School and in 1940, experienced the Coventry Blitz, witnessing the destruction of the Cathedral in which she had been confirmed.

She recalls coming out of the garden air raid shelter with a saucepan over her head for protection as she set out to help her neighbours.

Shortly after she signed up for the Wrens and was posted to an airfield in Padstow where she helped service and maintain Hurricane and Spitfire planes.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Ann Allen lived through the Coventry Blitz before going on to work with Spitfires and Hurricanes in Cornwall with the WrensAnn Allen lived through the Coventry Blitz before going on to work with Spitfires and Hurricanes in Cornwall with the Wrens

After the war she married John Jefferson Allen, a lieutenant and engineer in the Royal Navy, as she herself trained to become a teacher.

In 1960 Ann opened her own nursery school which she ran until 1985.

It was also in the 60s that Ann made arguably her biggest impact on society, as she entered a slogan competition run by Polycell.

She won a sailing dinghy with a phrase that has since become a part of everyday British vernacular, “It does what it says”.

“On the tin” was later added and the slogan has since been included in the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Ann and her son, Nick, purchased Dale House in 1999Ann and her son, Nick, purchased Dale House in 1999

Ann and John shared a love of arts and antiques and rented a unit at London House Antique Centre in Moreton as they began collecting and selling items.

John passed away in 1990 and she briefly lost interest before her son Nick helped reignite the fire.

The pair then purchased Dale House in 1999, Ann already 76-years-old.

Nick died from a brain tumour in 2007, aged 50, but Ann carried on running the shop, living each day by a maxim she had pinned in her kitchen: “Not coping is not an option!”

She said: “I carried on working as I loved running the business and loved my home.

“After Nick died, I wanted to carry on – for both of us!

“I am now looking forward to putting my feet up at last – or maybe going on a world cruise!”

A recent fall, coupled with the impracticality of living in the flat above Dale House has meant Ann has now moved into a care home.

The new owner of Dale House is converting it into an interior design business and shop.

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