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Golden couple help launch Telford at 50 celebrations

A couple, who rubbed shoulders with stars like Frank Carson, The Tremeloes and Herman’s Hermits, are now in the spotlight after being chosen to help launch Telford’s 50th birthday celebrations.

Today, the town of Telford celebrates its 50th birthday and for the past half century, Geoff and Kate Picken have been tenants in homes owned by either The Wrekin Housing Trust or Telford & Wrekin Council. They recently moved into a Trust property in Dee Close, Wellington.

However, life hasn’t always been quiet for the great-grandparents, who used to work at the popular Forest Glen nightclub where they mixed with bands and singers, including The Platters, Stan Boardman and Lonnie Donegan. Kate says while she did the catering at the club, Geoff was bar manager and together they made a good team.

“It was amazing to see those famous singers and comedians – we have lots of great memories, and some funny ones as well,” said Kate. “Like when famous comedian Mick Miller was doing his act on the stage – half way through he took a break and wanted to go outside for a breath of fresh air. Well, at the time we were having an extension done on the club and he walked out of the wrong door straight into a massive hole. Luckily he wasn’t hurt but the place was in uproar – our star act was laying on the ground in this great big hole.

“We grew up with The Tremeloes and so it was wonderful to see them perform – that is something I will never forget and I can still see them now when I hear their music. The Forest Glen used to be at the base of The Wrekin but it was moved to Blists Hill Victorian Museum in Ironbridge.”

The couple say they have enjoyed every home they have lived in as the first property they had with the council was at Brookhill Crescent in Ketley, which later became Wedgewood Crescent. Then they moved to a bigger property in Breiden Place, Wellington, with their son, Nicholas, and soon after their daughter, Sallyanne was born.

“It was wonderful for Nicholas and Sallyanne to grow up in Breiden Place as all the children would play out together – and even Geoff would join in with the football,” says Mrs Picken.

“I used to make chips and hand them out to the kids who would sit in the back gardens eating them. It was like a big family community where you all looked out for each other. However, we ended up going to a lovely three-bedroom house in Woollam Road in Arleston and stayed there for 42 years. We moved to our new bungalow on Dee Close because the stairs had become too much for me, and I’m on oxygen throughout the day, so we needed something that suited us better.”

Recently the couple were presented with a stunning bouquet of flowers by The Wrekin Housing Trust’s managing director, Wayne Gethings, and councillor Richard Overton to congratulate them on their 50th year as tenants.

Wayne Gethings said: “It’s not very often I get to meet a couple who have been tenants for 50 years – and so Mr and Mrs Picken certainly deserve to be part of the Telford at 50 celebrations. At the Trust we always work hard to find accommodation that meets the needs of our tenants and it is fantastic to see that Mr and Mrs Picken are happy with their new home – we wish them many more happy years together at Dee Close.”

Cllr Richard Overton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Housing & Enforcement said: “This is a great story, we are delighted it’s being shared during Telford’s 50th birthday week. Throughout the year, we’ve seen so many great stories from borough residents about their Telford memories and this really shows what makes Telford special and why they love living here.”

Mr and Mrs Picken, who have three granddaughters and two great-grandchildren, say they have always been pleased with the houses they have lived in – each one has been comfortable and near to shops and schools. “It has been wonderful bringing up a family in the homes we lived in – and we couldn’t be more proud of our children,” says Kate. “Nicholas was in the Royal Navy and worked in Florida for many years while Sallyanne has her own business running a stall at Wellington Market selling clothes and accessories.

“Our grandchildren go to the school just down the road from our new bungalow and so they always pop in to say hello on their way home, which we love. Our new house is perfect with a lovely sunny garden – we really couldn’t have wished for better.”

Mr & Mrs Picken Telford 50 golden tenants

Picture: Councillor Richard Overton chats to Mr and Mrs Picken at their home in Dee Close.

29th November 2018