WHEN IT came to choosing a venue to celebrate the life of one of Saddleworth’s oldest residents, only one venue was applicable.
That’s why relatives and friends gathered at Saints Café in Uppermill last month to mark the passing of number one customer, Una Hopkinson.
Una, a great-great grandmother and village resident for more than 70 years, died on September 7, aged 102.
Last December, at a spritely 101, she made her annual but final trip to Palm Springs in California to spend the winter with daughter Wendy Barlow.
Wendy, 72, told the Saddleworth Independent: “Mum’s happiness lay with the Saints café.
“She used to go every week and would hold court. Mark (owner Mark Rose) always said Una was his number one customer and she loved that.
“She did all the crosswords surrounded by all the customers who came into the café where she held court. That was her life.
“She had a routine of getting up, making the beds, putting on her make-up and jewellery and then go to Saints.
“In later years she would get a taxi and all the County Cars drivers knew her. She and my father, Kenneth, lived a wonderful life.”
Una was born in Cheadle but moved to Shaw where her grandfather, Frank Vernon Hughes, founded the Crompton Stage Society in 1934.
“My mother just loved the theatre,” added Wendy who returned to California at the end of September. “She was always the leading lady.
“If she wasn’t known for the theatre, then people knew her for having the Corona Café on George Street in Oldham.”
Una and Kenneth moved to Uppermill after World War Two and they later lived on the Village Green.
Wendy’s grandmother, Vi, owned a lace shop on Uppermill High Street, a business Una took over before opening the Corona Café.
When Wendy, who can trace her ancestry back on the Butterworth side of the family over 300 years, emigrated to the US, her parents became annual visitors.
Saints boss Mark, who has fond memories of Una, said: “We always called her our ‘number one – Una being one in Italian and also she always sat on table number one.
“When staff are serving drinks or meals they always say ‘on Una’s table.’
“She was always so glamorous when she came in, done up in all her finery. But that didn’t stop her pulling on the marigolds and helping to wash up soon after we opened the café.
“She was a special lady and will be sadly missed. She was the last one of her group of friends and they used to be a living history with all their stories.”
Una, was remembered at a Celebration of Life tea at Saints when regulars and people who knew Una attended to share their memories of Saddleworth’s grand old lady.