New centenarian celebrates with family in Gorleston
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A former pub landlady who mingled with the stars found herself in the spotlight at a surprise party to celebrate her 100th birthday milestone.
Iris Gooch was surrounded by around 50 family and friends at Gorleston's Pub on the Pier, having been invited there on the pretext of a quiet meal with close relatives.
Instead she was at the hub of a lively gathering with people from all over the country assembled to toast her centenary.
Her son John Gooch said his mother delighted in meeting up again with friends she had not seen for a long time and was up until 2am chatting about the day's events - long after he and his wife had gone to bed.
Mrs Gooch was born in South Chingford, East London, where she spent her childhood and went to school.
At the age of 16 she moved with her family to Norfolk, firstly to Hempnall and then to Great Yarmouth where her parents became landlords of the Upper Ferry Inn before moving to the Bell Inn at St Olaves.
She then trained as a waitress at Purdy's and soon became restaurant manager.
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At the outbreak of the Second World War she was drafted off to Welwyn Garden City where she made grinding wheels by day and worked for the Auxiliary Fire Service by night.
During the war she met Jack Gooch who was an officer in the Royal Navy when he was in port at Great Yarmouth. They were reunited at the end of the war, Mr Gooch having been in a German POW camp for three years.
They married in 1947 and moved to Jack's home town of Enfield where their son John was born. They went on to become publicans themselves moving to the Nelson Tavern in Great Yarmouth and then to the Crown Hotel in Watton.
Mrs Gooch was widowed in 1964 and moved to Gorleston in 1969.
She ran a small off-licence before a short spell working in the finance office on the Britannia Pier where she met some of the stars who performed for the summer season in Yarmouth.
She then enjoyed many happy years as the store cashier in Debenhams before retiring.
Retirement, however, was short-lived.
Having been asked to do two weeks holiday cover in Coe's Newsagents in Bells Road she stayed part-time for seven years, again making lots of lifelong friends, many of whom she still sees regularly.
She now lives with her family in Gorleston and still enjoys trips out especially to local hostelries for a drink and a meal.
Her other interests are reading and watching television.
She has a sister, one son and daughter-in-law and two grand-daughters.