In the affluent Hertfordshire town of Hitchin, W.B. Gatward and Son is an institution facing the town’s cobbled old market square. The bars and restaurants around them may have become a little more rowdy over the years, but Gatwards, as the locals call it, has seen it all over its 254 year history.
Anna Gatward, the family business’s current custodian runs the shop with James Hunter, but they are currently grooming a new generation of Gatwards to take over full responsibility for the business. “The existing team of directors is calling time on full-time working and the business has been preparing for that with existing members of the team moving into more management decision making, buying and the day-to-day running of the store.
The next generation of the Gatward family will move into the business in the next couple of years, explains James, who is looking forward to spending more time on his personal passions. “I have three grandchildren with varying demands on my time, a very demanding garden which is beautiful and gives me a lot of pleasure, and of course my cars. I have a lovely bright red convertible Jaguar XKR as my Sunday car which is great fun when time allows me to take her out from her garage and take her for a spin,” he dreams.
Anna is also looking forward to devoting more time to herself. “Having lost my husband of 40 years three years ago, quite by chance, I have been lucky enough to re-connect with an old boyfriend from the 1960’s and we have started a new life together. He has got me to get my beloved Aston Martin back on the road and we are both seriously into our gardening. I am also learning to play bridge and croquet, so on a personal level, life is certainly looking up,” she says.