90-year-old Yorkshire woman is Britain's oldest market stall holder

Britain's oldest market stall holder who has sold fruit and veg from from her stand for nearly SEVENTY years is still going strong - at the age of 90.

By Rebecca Marano
Monday, 08 April, 2019, 13:17
Joan Ward, 90, has been running her fruit and veg stall in Wath's Value for Money Market for nearly seventy years. Photo: SWNS

Grandmother Joan Ward works eight hours a day, six days a week on her pitch which she set up with her late husband Fred Ward in 1952.

Since Fred's death in 2006, Joan - who wakes up at 6.30am every morning to get to work - has single-handedly ran the successful stall in 'Wath's Value for Money Market'.

Joan Ward, 90, has been running her fruit and veg stall in Wath's Value for Money Market for nearly seventy years. Photo: SWNS

The intrepid nonagenarian has made the ten mile trip from her home in Barnsley, South Yorks., to the stall almost every morning for 67 years.

She has commuted hundreds of thousands of miles and worked over 165,000 hours.

Joan said: "It makes me proud that I've managed to keep going after all these years. I just take it as normal, it's something I like doing."

Budding worker Joan was born in her grandmother's fish and chip shop and even helped to deliver fruit and veg from her father's horse and cart as a youngster.

Joan Ward and husband, Fred Ward. Photo credit: SWNS

-> Man arrested for attempted murder after Huddersfield shootingAfter meeting her beloved husband Fred, the couple set up the market stall in 1952 which Joan still runs to this day.

Despite moving around South Yorkshire markets, the stall has now been settled in Wath market for 36 years.

Alongside her sister Pat, 79 - who runs a cafe in the market - and her daughter Katherine, 60, who runs a card shop, Joan has become a fixture of the popular venue.

She said: "I don't use a walking stick or anything like that. I still do everything myself."

Joan said she doesn't even think about her age.

She added: "I drive to work every morning, I collect the deliveries and I lift all of the 20 kilo sacks of potatoes.

"I have never really thought about how old I am, the years have gone so fast. Time flies when you are working hard."

Fred was one of four brothers who all had market stalls in South Yorkshire.

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The pair met at a dance in Blackpool in 1950.

-> ‘Politically sensitive’ Sheffield housing plans delayed from publicationJoan said: "People don't meet like we used to anymore, everybody used to meet at dances.

"I used to work in a shoe shop at the time and I would walk past Fred's stall twice a week to have a chat to him."

After marrying in 1952 in Wath, the couple decided to set up their own venture and "start out" on their own.

Joan, who originally wanted to join the police before starting the business, added: "Fred already had a stall which he shared but we decided to start one ourselves.

"We both knew we wanted to start up a business together.

"Fred came from a family of greengrocers and it was the perfect match."

The beloved couple had three daughters together - Ghisalime, 65, Isabelle, 63 and Katherine, 60.

They also have four granddaughters - Sarah, Rachael, Amy and Kate.

Fred sadly passed away in 2006 - but Joan continues to run the stall solo.

She added: "It is great, I get to meet so many people.

"I have served customers now who are grown up and I remember serving their mothers and their grandmothers.

"Three generations of families come to my stall and I remember selling products to each of them, it is amazing."

Joan has no plans to retire.

She said: "As long as I am fit to carry on, I will still be here. Age is just a number."