Tributes paid to Betty Whittam who helped Garstang become the world’s first Fair Trade Town

Betty Whittam, who died in November.
Betty Whittam, who died in November.
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A pioneering Co-op manager who worked in Garstang for decades and was instrumental in helping the town become the world’s first Fair Trade town is to be officially honoured.

Betty Whittam, who died in November at the age of 75, will have two permanent memorials.

Garstang Fairtrade coordinator Bruce Crowther (centre) with Co-Op's Garstang branch manager Betty Whittam and member services officer Duncan Rees

Garstang Fairtrade coordinator Bruce Crowther (centre) with Co-Op's Garstang branch manager Betty Whittam and member services officer Duncan Rees

She had continued working at the Garstang Co-op until becoming ill in February last year.

Colleagues and customers are already collecting for a bench to be placed outside the High Street Co-op store in her memory.

Her colleague and Garstang Co-op Assistant Manager, Craig White said: “She was a legend really. It meant everything to her the Co-op. She used to say she never wanted to retire.”

Betty will also be honoured by The FIG Tree Fair Trade Centre, which used to be based in the town. Director Bruce Crowther said Betty had been an early supporter of Fair Trade and regularly welcomed Fair Trade visitors to the Co-op.

She was a legend really. It meant everything to her the Co-op. She used to say she never wanted to retire.”

He said: “As a stalwart supporter for fair trade and the Co-op Betty will be missed by so many in and around Garstang. At the very beginning there wasn’t support for Fair Trade in Garstang.”

Paying tribute to the enthusiasm with which Betty had promoted Fair Trade, he said a photograph of Betty and colleagues at the Fair Trade launch would feature in a permanent memorial to Betty when The Fig Tree finds a new home.

The picture shows Betty and Co-op colleague Duncan Rees with Bruce Crowther, (representing Garstang Oxfam Group), in 2001. The sign had been sponsored by the Co-op.

Bruce said: “This photo has been used across the world on many occasions.”

Betty, who also managed stores in Morecambe and Blackpool, had worked for the Co-op’s predecessors in Garstang Lo Cost and Keenway as manager.

She leaves husband Trevor and a son Peter. The funeral was held at Preston Crematorium.

• The Fig Tree had relocated to St John’s Church in Lancaster but was flooded out and is searching for a new home in the city.

• The inscription will read: “In memory of Betty Whittam (1942 - 2017) manager of Co-op, Garstang who helped Garstang become the world’s first Fair Trade Town and supported the launch of The FIG Tree International Fair Trade Centre. Betty was a true friend of Fairtrade when it mattered most, from the beginning and an ambassador for The Co-op during her 45 years at the Garstang store.”