Betting shop manager retires after working at Northampton shopping centre since the day it opened

Chris Nightingale is presented with a hip flask after 40 years of work
Chris Nightingale is presented with a hip flask after 40 years of work

A store manager at a Northamptonshire shopping centre has retired after working at the centre since it opened its doors for the first time more than 40 years ago.

Chris Nightingale started work as manager at Hayling Racing - now Ladbrokes - on the day before the centre opened on October 29, 1974. When it was discovered he was the only person still working there since then, he was asked to cut the cake at the centre’s 40th anniversary ceremony last year.

We gave Henry Cooper a free bet on the opening day and he won £130

Chris Nightingale

The 67-year-old grandfather from Cogenhoe said: “It’s been a great job because, as a sports fan, it’s where everything is going on.

“But it will be nice not to have to get up early every day and work until 10pm. There are lots of things to do around the house and I’ve already got a lot better at golf now that I can concentrate more.”

He previously ran a store in London but moved to Weston Favell to be nearer to home.

He said: “Working nearer home was great - but I didn’t realise quite how long it would be for.

“Having the security guards there makes it a safer place to work than the town centre and I will miss all the friends I have made at the centre.

“When you work somewhere for that long they become like a family to you. I want to thank them for all of our memories shared together and wish them all the best for the future.”

Commenting on the day the store was opened, by English heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper, he said: “It was a great day, he was such a gentleman and the whole shop was buzzing, I’ve never had another day like it.

“We gave him a free £10 bet as a thank you and he managed to pick the longest winner of the day at 12-1 giving him £130, a huge amount of money in 1974.

“We donated the winnings to the church, although, as it was money won they were a bit dubious about accepting the gift, but we persuaded them in the end.”

As a leaving gift, the centre management team all chipped in to buy him a specially engraved hip flask to take with him on the golf course.

Kevin Legg, centre manager for Weston Favell said: “We are all sad to see Chris go; he has been a big part of this centre for longer than any of us.

“All of the centre management team here wish him all the best in his new life of relaxation, he deserves it, and he is welcome back here anytime.”