Straight-talking Brenda is Guardian’s top columnist

Brenda Fishwick
Brenda Fishwick
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Meet the new voice of the Guardian - Brenda Fishwick.

The 72-year-old has lived all her life in Chorley, which is why she’s perfectly placed to give her down-to-earth assessment on what’s happening.

Her fortnightly column - which will be called ‘The World According To Nana Fishwick’ - will include a mixture of straight-talking and her memories through the ages.

Brenda was born at Chorley hospital in 1938 to Elsie and William Huyton, who lived in Fleet Street.

She had a brother and a sister and went to St George’s Primary School.

“We left at 15 years of age in those days,” she said.

Chorley was always a hub of activity in the 1950s and in 1954 the circus came to town - complete with elephants.

After leaving school Brenda immediately got a job.

“My first job was as a sewer at Park Mills in Chorley,” she recalled.

“We weren’t there so long. You worked from 7.30am in the morning until 5.30pm at night.

“After that I went to Lawrence’s Mill, in Lyons Lane, Chorley, which they’ve recently pulled down.

“I was there for three years and I got married at 18.”

Brenda went on to have three children - Steven, Paul and daughter Janet - although tragically Steven died of cancer when he was 41.

“I’ve never wanted to leave Chorley,” said Brenda, who also has eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“I’ve always been a home bird. I feel safe in Chorley. I don’t like travelling.

“As a child growing up your mother took you to Blackpool in July.

“You got a bucket and spade and a donkey ride and you were over the moon.

“You took your own sandwiches and your entire holiday lasted one day.

“Blackpool used to be packed. You couldn’t move.

“The first time I travelled abroad was in the 1970s and that was to go to Australia to see my sister.

“I felt like I’d been on the plane for a week by the time we arrived. I was petrified.”

Brenda says the happiest period of her working life was spent at the RoF site in Euxton, which is now Buckshaw Village.

“I spent 14 years filling in ammunitions,” she said. “That was my favourite job. Your work colleagues became like an extended family.”

Brenda, who lives off Pall Mall, says times have changed in Chorley - and not all the changes are for the better.

“There was always somewhere to go in Chorley,” she recalled. “There were dance halls, skating halls and loads of pubs. You were passing pubs all the time.

“It was the same with Chorley Market. You used to go on the Flat Iron and you’d be on all day.

“Chorley is still Chorley but it’s a smaller version.

“Because I love Chorley I’m sad when I see all the empty shops. It’s not what it was.”

One theme through her life has been the Chorley Guardian, which is why she can’t wait to see her first ‘The World According To Nana Fishwick’ column in print.

“I’ve always read the Guardian,” she said. “My mother, before she died, used to send the Guardian to my sister Audrey in Australia.

“I don’t quite think I’ll believe that I’m in the paper until I see it with my own eyes.

“My mum Elsie would be surprised. She used to say ‘our Brenda is as thick as two short planks’.

“I was in hospital recently and the nurse asked for my friend’s telephone number so she could pick me up.

“I told the nurse that I only had her name in my phone but I’d ring her to get the number.

“The nurse looked at me strangely and took the phone off me. I don’t understand technology.

“I’ve got a DVD player that I’ve never used.

“When I was a kid you bought a TV and switched it on but now the TVs are thinner and wider. I can’t make sense of it.

“It’s like modern music. I can’t understand the words. It’s all ‘bang, bang, bang’. I used to like Rock and Roll.”

So has Brenda heard of Justin Bieber?

“Who?” she replied. “I wouldn’t know him if I bumped into him in the middle of Chorley.”

‘The World According To Nana Fishwick’ starts next week.