Grace celebrates 60 years behind the counter at family newsagents

Family newsagents Websters in Debenham is still going strong after 60 years.
Two generations in the

Family newsagents Websters in Debenham is still going strong after 60 years. Two generations in the shop, Grace Webster,90, and daughter and son-in-law Ruth and Stephen Boulton. Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

One of Suffolk’s oldest shop workers is celebrating 60 years behind the counter at her family-run newsagents in Debenham.

Grace Webster, 90, and her late husband Robert, took over the High Street shop - and began selling their first EADTs and Stars - on Monday November 17, 1958.

Ipswich Town had won 5-3 against Brighton and Hove Albion just two days before, with Ray Crawford scoring a hat-trick.

Six decades later, Grace still works in the shop every day alongside son-in-law Stephen Boulton and daughter Ruth.

Mrs Webster said she and her husband bought the business after Robert got chatting to the previous owner in the village pub.

“I had worked in retail in Ipswich, and Robert was in farming,” she said.

“I worked in the Sunnucks clothes store in the centre of town.

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“I was at home in Debenham, Ruth was a young girl and Edward was 11 months.

“Robert came home and said he had met Mr Oxborrow in the Woolpack, who had been running the newsagents for 20 years, and he had offered to sell it.

“I knew retail, and Robert was adaptable and happy to learn. So we thought we would try the shop.

“We used to sell 500 Anglians a day then. And the men would queue outside up on a Saturday afternoon, waiting for the Green’Un to arrive for the football results.

“I used to get up at 4am, ready to receive the papers when they came here from Ipswich railway station.

“I had my first customer in the door at 5.15am.”

Mrs Webster’s daughter Ruth joined the shop having worked for Lloyds Bank after leaving school, her husband joining the partnership in 1978.

She said her mother remained a key member of the team.

“Mum still loves to serve in the shop,” she said.

The newsagents is a seven-day business, delivering daily newspapers across a nine mile radius with newspaper boys and girls delivering to homes in the village.

It seems you get more for you money these days - the weekend papers are so heavy now, the youngsters have to use trollies at weekends rather than shoulder bags. Websters remains a family business, with four generations still living in the village - all within 200 yards of each other.