A Stoke-on-Trent market trader’s vanilla slices have become so famous that cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is keen to try them.
Margaret Thelwell was amazed to discover her name was mentioned in Parliament when Stoke-on-Trent North MP praised several North Staffordshire businesses.
He asked the House of Commons leader if he could ‘find parliamentary time to celebrate local independent retailers’.
Businesses in Goldenhill, Butt Lane, Burslem and Milton were given shout outs, with Margaret’s vanilla slices at Tunstall indoor market getting a special mention.
In response, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Margaret’s vanilla custards at the Tunstall indoor market sound mouth-wateringly good for those of us with a sweet tooth. “
Following up on Twitter, he added: “Vanilla custards do not appear in Hansard enough, so thank you to Jonathan for making up for lost time. Best wishes to Margaret and all the businesses mentioned.”
Margaret, who has worked at J.S.S Bakeries in the market for the past 18 years, said it was ‘very nice’ to get a mention from MPs.
“I’m not the cook, I’m more of the front-man, the face of the stall,” said the 71-year-old, who lives in Knypersley.
She loves mixing with people and has had numerous jobs over the years, including hotel work and Woolworths
“People say I could sell ice to Eskimos. Everyone trusts me and knows that I wouldn’t say that things were nice if they weren’t.
“J.S.S Bakeries is a family-run firm and we sell cakes, pastries and pies, that kind of thing. Everything is homemade.
“People say that our pies and sausage rolls taste just like Burgess’ and we have had customers come from as far as Winsford.
“It was very nice to be recognised for our vanilla slices. My cousin’s brother used to work for 10 Downing Street and he said that any mention in Parliament goes down in the books. So it’ll be on record forever.
“I can’t tell you how many people we had a lot of people coming in and mentioning it. Someone came in and said they’d come all the way from Longton just for some custards.
“On Saturday, the owner had to go and make some more sausage rolls and vanilla slices because everyone wanted them. It’s a lovely way to end the year and a great boost for the business.”
As soon Margaret heard about the mention in Parliament from a friend, the first person she told was her daughter.
“I texted my daughter to tell her about it, she’s a graphic designer, and she said, ‘mum, nothing surprises me about you’. I have been in the paper quite a few times.
“In 1954, I appeared in The Sentinel when I climbed Snowdon with my school. I also used to work for Stoke City and I arranged something with all of the fans and Sky News came and covered that.
“I’m hopefully going to be meeting Jacob Rees-Mogg after all this. Jonathan said that we might be able to arrange something.
“I think all of the MPs would enjoy the vanilla slices.”
And Margaret had nothing but praise for the Stoke-on-Trent North MP Mr Gullis.
“I’ve never known an MP like him – he’s very hard-working. He does whatever he can, works tirelessly and comes into the market all of the time.
“So many places have sadly had to close this year, including the markets, so it’s really important to support local businesses and I’m glad that he does that.”
Speaking during the business statement in Parliament, Mr Gullis said: “Like many others, it was a delight to spend Small Business Saturday in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, visiting local retailers like Goldenhill Garden Centre, Scott’s Barbers in Butt Lane, Barewall Art Gallery in Burslem, Abacus Books and Cards in Milton and the lovely Margaret Thelwell with her vanilla custards at Tunstall indoor market.
“Does my Rt Hon Friend agree that it is important that we back our local high streets after they have made so many sacrifices to protect us and our NHS, and can we find parliamentary time to celebrate local independent retailers?”