Ex-chairman’s memories

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A 94-year-old former Co-op chairman said he is saddened by the closure of the town’s department store.

Joseph Ayre was made chairman in the 1960s, aged just 32 and remained there until he retired, aged 70.

“It rather saddens me to see it go,” he told the Advertiser.

“I have seen the changes over the years and of course changes in Ilkeston.

“But we are a victim of circumstance and the current economic situation.”

Last week we revealed that Midlands Co-op is closing the South Street department, bringing about an end of an era for Ilkeston.

Joseph, who was also a former councillor, said he had many fond memories of his time heading the governing board for the department store.

“We put an awful lot of work in,” he said.

Joseph worked for the Post Office all his life but spent his spare time fulfilling his duties as chairman.

“We had a board meeting every Thursday with the nine directors, where we used to elect departmental officers,” he added.

“I worked with Mr Scott, who was chief executive – he was very, very good at his job and I always said he was destined for big things but he enjoyed working at Ilkeston so much.”

Over the years, Joseph met four members of the Royal Family who came to visit the Co-op.

“Most of them were patrons of various charities and we had dinners at the Co-op,” explained Joseph.

Another Royal visitor was Princess Margaret, in 1984, who can be seen in this picture from the collection of the late Eddie King.

We are looking for your pictures and memories of the Co-op, before it is gone forever.

Email news@ilkestonadvertiser.co.uk or call 0115 944 6181.