Date with destiny at new Marks and Spencer store for Norwich woman

As the Marks and Spencer store in Norwich nears completion of its major refurbishment, staff have been looking into the building's history.

The 18-month project to expand and modernise the landmark department store is set for a grand opening at the end of September, with the new glass-fronted extension already open.

The building was previously a NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) Services Club until M&S took over the premises in the early 1950s.

M&S wrote to the Evening News letters page in June appealing for a man who, legend had it, had proposed to his wife at the NAAFI Club.

That man was never found but the store received several calls about happy memories from the history of the store's building, and one stood out above the rest.

That was the story of Gwynne Hooks, of Lakenham Road, Norwich.

Mrs Hooks, 87, wrote to the shop to tell how she met her husband Stephen there on the one and only blind date of her life on March 1, 1946.

Most Read

That blind date became a marriage the next year and the couple continued to live happily together for the following 63 years, having one daughter, Angela, until Stephen unfortunately passed away aged 91 last year.

Store manager at Norwich M&S, Andy Barber, recently invited Mrs Hooks to come and have a look around the refurbishment and she was delighted with what she saw.

She said: 'I thought it was excellent; beautiful, light and airy with lots of charming, smiling staff to greet you. It's not quite finished yet but I was enormously impressed.

'I've always shopped there, I know it's maybe a bit pricey but you can rely on it and that's good in this day and age.'

Have you got a story to share about Norwich? Write to Evening News Letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1JE. Or email