After almost 39 years serving in a popular Leeds 'chip shop', grandma Elaine Coyne has decided to wrap up her last fish supper.
Elaine, 65, who has worked at Skyliners Fish and Chip Restaurant and takeway, in Whitkirk, since January 1980, is to retire from the job she says has been an ‘absolute pleasure’.
And as a surprise, just days before she leaves on Tuesday (23 July) her granddaughter Martha Coyne, aged five years, went to the restaurant for an end of term school trip to eat lunch, from nearby Austhorpe Primary School.
As the class enjoyed their lunch on Thursday, Elaine’s family presented her with flowers and cards, much to her delight.
Elaine, who lives in Whitkirk with husband John, said: “I have loved working here for all these years. First the boss was David Meehan and now his son Alvin and wife Sam manage it, who are just brilliant. I’ve seen Alvin grow up.
“David was quite strict about how things were run back then and would probably not like a menu that includes battered sausages, curry sauce and chicken nuggets.”
She said that many of the staff at the restaurant and takeaway at Austhorpe View, had become good friends and many of the women who worked there were part-time staff, to fit in with family life and to raise their children.
Elaine added: “I will miss it very much, it has been an absolute pleasure, but it is the right time to leave while I still enjoy it and I am relatively fit. Working nights was sometimes like going out for the evening, we always had such fun.
“Whenever I go shopping, I see people and they recognise me but they often cannot remember exactly where from. You get to know people, especially the regular customers.
“Of course I will be back for the delicious fish and chips, which are the best around.”
Ellie Henry, on behalf of the staff at Skyliners which has been trading for 56 years, said: “We are all going to miss Elaine very much. She is a real character to have around.”
Elaine’s son Steven Coyne added: “It is a long time to work anywhere and it was a coincidence that Martha’s school trip was going there for lunch, so we decided to surprise her with flowers.”
Fish and chips remain one of Britain’s most popular takeaway meals.
Fish and chips were served in newspaper until the 1980s.
British consumers eat some 382 million portions of fish and chips every year. That’s six servings for every man, woman and child.
The annual spend on fish and chips in the UK is in the region of a staggering £1.2 billion.
There are currently approximately 10,500 specialist fish and chip shops in the UK.
An average portion of fish, chips and peas contains only 7.3% fat. By comparison, a pork pie has 10.8% fat.
Fish and chips were first served together as a dish around 1860 - although their origin is contested.