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Tragedy and travails: Collier Row woman Catherine Fogg finally retires, aged 89

Catherine Fogg is hanging up her sausages for the last time! Catherine Fogg is hanging up her sausages for the last time!

Saturday, December 21, 2013
12:00 PM

Most people approaching the age of 60 start looking forward to putting their feet up – not Catherine Fogg. Jane Ball finds out about the woman who just loves to work

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Catherine Fogg, right, with a friend in the WrensCatherine Fogg, right, with a friend in the Wrens

In 1981 57-year-old Catherine Fogg began serving up meat to the people of Gidea Park at an age when others are thinking about sitting down.

And not even brain surgery could keep her home for long.

For more than three decades, Catherine has been a familiar face in the close-knit town, first in Parks Delicatessen, Main Road, and then in William’s Butchers, Balgores Lane.

William Francis Jarmy, Catherine's father, outside his shop in North StreetWilliam Francis Jarmy, Catherine's father, outside his shop in North Street

But now, aged 89, Catherine, of Charlotte Gardens, Collier Row, will serve sausages and pack pork no more, agreeing it is time to take a well-earned rest.

Niece Anna Earle said: “She found the meat was getting very heavy and the butchers too cold. Also going out and about at 7am, wasn’t great, so she 
decided this winter would be her last working there.”

She added: “She’s going to be very sad because the people in the shop were like her family.”

Catherine, who served as a Wren on HMS Heron in Somerset during the Second World War, first gave up work at Romford telephone exchange in 1952, after marrying “dashing” engineer Cliff Fogg – who she spied “over the switchboard”.

Carole says her mum is 'inspirational'Carole says her mum is 'inspirational'

When she returned to work in the eary ’80s, some 30 years later, it was a decision borne not only of an incredible work ethic – shared also by Cliff who worked until his death, aged 74 – but also profound personal tragedy: the loss of the couple’s son, Christopher, to haemophilia, aged just 16.

“Mum always loved working hard,” said daughter Carole Faulkner. “She loved the Wrens, she loved the telephone ­exchange and she loved the butchers. Both mum and dad shared a sense of responsibility, to your family and to your community.

“But I think mum found that going back to work helped deal with the loss.

“Mum’s a Romford girl through and through. Her family owned Jarmy’s [tobacconist] in North Street, and Gidea Park is an area that people know us as a family. Her job was the glue to her social life.”

Such was her devotion to her job, she returned to it just six weeks after undergoing major brain surgery to remove a 50p-sized clot from her brain. She was 85.

Carole, who divides her time between her homes in Brentwood and France, said: “She’s amazing, inspirational.

“The surgery was a very specialist operation. But she was back in the shop in six weeks. She went back to the doctors ­recently and he said to her ‘you’re amazing, you know that?’.”

Now Carole hopes her mum, with her new-found free time, will visit her on the Continent.

“She wouldn’t come before,” Carole revealed, “because she didn’t want to take time off work.”

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