Frank, who turns 95 this month, has been coming to the University for 20 years. He visits his friends in Fresh to pick up his shopping each day where he knows everyone’s name. He stops to meet more friends from the Faculty of Science at the duck pond and walks around campus 364 days per year. He takes just one day off when he’s visiting family on Christmas day. Frank is the official number one customer of the Fresh team and he lights up the mornings of everyone who has the pleasure of knowing him. We spoke to him by his favourite spot, the duck pond.
Frank, you have been walking to the University almost every day for your shopping for 20 years. What is it that made you a regular customer and what draws you here?
I come for the company, to meet people; Everyone knows me here. They look after me in there [Fresh], I got my badge [number one customer] from them. They dropped shopping and my paper to the door when we had to keep in [during lockdown]. Before all this [Covid], I would stop for a seat and a coffee and they’d put my jacket on the radiator to dry. I walk from home every day, no matter the weather. I’ve been up here in the snow. If it’s pouring down when I open the door, I just get going. It’s changed up here. I’ve watched a lot of these buildings go up. This is my garden [the duck pond and campus], aren’t I lucky?
Frank's no. 1 customer badge
What is your favourite thing about the University?
This place [the duck pond] and the people I meet. The people in the shop, people walking by, people at the pond, they all stop to talk to me, which makes my day. It keeps me going.
What are the most important items on your shopping list?
I pick up my paper, milk and bread each day. I keep a bit of loaf for the ducks. They look after me up there. I do all my own cooking, but I’m not too fussy about what to cook, nothing too fancy, but I like to make it from fresh. I have my own glasshouse and have cucumber and tomatoes just now. I bring some up for people. I’ve just started on the spring greens.
Can you share a little of your life history?
I grew up here and used to go out as a youngster to Claverton Down and Combe Down. I would go to Rainbow Wood. I was called up to the army when I was 17, trained in Farnham and served as a private in Burma and Singapore. When I see all these young kids around I think, that would have been them back then. They’re lucky to be here. I drove trucks in the army and when I came home, I drove trucks here. I did a route all the way from Scotland to Cornwall and lived in Cornwall, St Austell, for a spell. I still cook, do the housekeeping, do the laundry. I love the garden, I do one job inside and one job out to keep me busy. I watch the football, but I’d rather be in the garden when the weather’s good. I like it when they [football player] don’t lie on the ground, they just get up and get on with it. I have so many great grandchildren.
Where do you get your energy from?
I don’t drink or smoke, but I did in the army when they would give you those on free issue! I get up early and I eat my porridge. I don’t sit back, I just get on with it. A friend of mine had a fall. I took her out every day with her walker for 2 months and now she goes out by herself. You’ve got to keep going! It’s important to be independent; people would do better to look after themselves a bit more. I’ve had both my [Covid] jabs and my flu jab. There are lots of people on TV who wish they’d had the jab; don’t be like that. You’ve got to do your bit. I don’t go to the doctor apart from getting my jabs, I would rather go and see the vet in the animal shelter on my walk!
From his friends: Frank is adored by so many people around campus. His positivity is humbling and when you’re lucky enough to meet him, his smile and energy stay with you for the rest of the day. The Fresh team are incredible and always go above and beyond for their number one customer, who makes everyone around him happy!