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East of England Co-op celebrates 150th birthday by gathering fond memories from members, customers and colleagues

PUBLISHED: 15:13 03 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:56 04 March 2018

A store in the Whitehouse ward of Ipswich. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

A store in the Whitehouse ward of Ipswich. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

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East Anglia’s largest independent retailer is celebrating its 150th birthday today – and organisers are asking locals to help mark the anniversary by sharing fond memories of the store.

The Stowmarket Co-operative. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP The Stowmarket Co-operative. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

The East of England Co-op was founded way back in 1868, and today employs over 4,000 staff at 230 stores across the region.

To mark the event, the Co-op is seeking to gather photos and memorabilia from members, customers and colleagues with fond memories of the store to feature in its celebrations throughout the year.

It has also partnered with producers Sourced Locally to create a limited range of products – from eggs, flour and jam, to beer, chocolate and speciality tea from Bury St Edmunds-based retailer Butterworths and Son.

In light of the Co-op’s historic commitment to achieving equal rights for women, each box of the tea will also include a limited edition tea card, depicting the Co-operative Women’s Guild from Hadleigh in 1928.

A Co-operative mobile shop from 1967. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP A Co-operative mobile shop from 1967. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

The store enabled women to receive their own dividend and have an equal vote in their co-operative 80 years before they would be granted the parliamentary vote.

Minnie Moll, Joint Chief Executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “For 150 years we’ve always been looking at the small things we can do that will make a big difference.

“We’ve never been afraid to try new things and adapt to change, and our story involves so much more than simply selling food.”

Rob Butterworth, from Butterworths and Son, said: “To have a product of outstanding quality worthy to represent this landmark anniversary is a proud moment for the family and our team who strive to consistently provide excellence in everything we do. The East of England Co-op is important to the region, offering great exposure for local producers and businesses. Their family approach, caring attitude with connections to the local communities they serve in, is something to be celebrated indeed.”

Leiston market place. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP Leiston market place. Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

Ms Moll added: “We’ve supported our colleagues and communities through two World Wars and rationing, seen five coronations, a millennium, and the birth of television, computers and the internet. Through all that change we’ve continued to innovate and adapt, and in 2018 we’re proud to still be at the heart of the communities we serve.”

To share your memories online click here or write to 150 Year Anniversary, East of England Co-op, Wherstead Park, The Street, Wherstead, Ipswich IP9 2BJ.

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