Minshull Vernon

WI July meeting

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A well attended meeting on a beautiful July evening when members welcomed Mr John Headon as their guest speaker.
John had spent almost all of his working life working for Marks and Spencer, climbing the ranks up the managerial positions within the company. He gave the history of how that business started in a very small way up in Yorkshire.
Michael Marks was a Tinker, the son of a Tailor and from very small beginnings found himself in Leeds working as a peddler selling stitching sundries such as buttons, cottons and needles, door to door and all costing the princely sum of one penny.

In those far away days one has to remember that 90% of the population was working class and people made their own clothes. 'From little acorns great oaks grow' and in 1894 Tom Spencer became Michael Marks business partner and ten years later they had 24 shops.

Today M & S employ 66,000 staff world wide and is the store that people just love to browse around. John joined the company in 1977 and gave many anecdotes of his years working in the public eye, dressing windows and coping with everything that his workaday world gave him to do. One of his earliest memories was 'the turkey run' when at Christmas, M & S couldn't supply enough turkeys for public demand- almost a military operation when all the doors of the store were opened simultaneously, and customers literally ran to grab their Christmas dinner. The joy of the lucky ones and the bewilderment of those who said 'Where am I going to get our dinner from now?'. Those were the days.
Sue Challoner gave the well earned vote of thanks to John for his interesting and entertaining talk.