The empress of sold! Shopper Gladys Knight gets 100th birthday supermarket surprise

Gladys Knight celebrating her 100th birthday in Budgens
Gladys Knight celebrating her 100th birthday in Budgens

A loyal shopper who shares her name with a soul legend was overcome with emotion as she was given a 100th birthday surprise by staff at her nearby supermarket.

Gladys Knight, 99, wheeled her trolley of Pringles, grapes and bananas towards the deli counter at the back of Budgens in Bedgrove.

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But before she could ask for her usual ham on the bone, she was surprised with balloons, a card, flowers, cake and her favourite sweets - Jelly Babies.

Gladys, who has lived at retirement home Shaftesbury House in Craigwell Avenue for 24 years, visits the store every Friday.

She even picks up a chocolate bar for her friend Elsie, 94, who is unable to get to the shop.

“I wouldn’t have come if I had known,” Gladys joked. “It was a big surprise but very nice.”

Her daughter Janet Bownass, 69, has been accompanying her mum to the store for the last three years.

She said her mum is looking forward to a message from the Queen but has concerns as her big day falls on Good Friday.

Mrs Bownass said: “We’re not sure when the telegram from the Queen is coming because I’m not sure there is post.

“And we’re busy on Friday so we thought today would be good. I tried to tell the staff (about the birthday) the other week but got told off by my mum for wasting time.”

Gladys has two granddaughters and six great-grandsons, whose ages range from 11-21.

She worked in domestic service all her life and has enjoyed her retirement playing skittles and bingo in the communal lounge of the home.

Store manager Jay Mia presented Gladys with the flowers as she arrived at the deli counter.

Mr Mia, who has been running the shop since August, said: “Gladys has been coming here for years. There’s a nice local feel and people are used to what they have. I try and help but they say ‘oh no, I know where it is’.

“I could run the store from the office but I don’t like to do that. I want to be seeing people’s faces around the store, even packing their bags.”