Sprowston Avon lady celebrates 50 years of service

She must surely be one of the country's longest serving Avon ladies, having delivered beauty products to Sprowston homes for half a century.

But this month Brenda Bishop will bid farewell to her much-loved job after completing her final delivery round. 'I just love Avon, everything about it. I think it is a great cosmetic and I love meeting all the people. For 50 years I have done a job I have loved,' said 76-year-old Mrs Bishop, whose favourite Avon products are the perfume Timeless and the Ultimate day and night creams.

Mrs Bishop first started as an Avon rep on St Valentine's Day 1961, just two years after the brand came over to England from the United States.

'When I started off I covered the whole of Sprowston. Hardly anybody had heard of Avon then so I spent a lot of time explaining to people what it was,' she said.

'It was just perfumes and cosmetics then, but now there's jewellery, accessories, toys, underwear, and a men's section.

'Nowadays it is catalogue sales, but back then we used to have to knock on the door and introduce ourselves.

'We had a lovely big black display case with all the samples, and you would sit and let the customer try them all.

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'I liked it best in the beginning because you got to know everybody. It was very personal.

'I would often take my daughter Gail around with me and my dog Sherry, who became known as the Avon dog for a long while.'

In recent times Mrs Bishop's Avon round has consisted of just under 50 people in the roads close to her home which she shares with her husband Geoff in Linacre Avenue. She said many of these people were some of her earliest customers who have stayed with her throughout her Avon career.

'They are not just customers, they are friends too,' she said.

'I have made so many good friends over the years. I would like to say a big thank you to all of my customers past and present.'

The name 'Avon Queen' has been written on some chocolate given to Mrs Bishop by one of her customers and – judging by the vast array of chocolates, flowers and cards she has received to mark her retirement – this is clearly how she is thought of by many of the people she has got to know in her Avon lady role over the years.

Avon business development manager Diane Cooke said Mrs Bishop had been a fantastic Avon rep, always selling at high levels. Mrs Bishop was taken out to lunch at Dunston Hall and presented with a gold bracelet and flowers by Avon to mark her 50 years of service.

Mrs Bishop has two grandchildren, Natalie and Romany, and two great-grandchildren, Harley and Harmony. Mrs Bishop's daughter Gail passed away in May 2009.