CLECKHEATON’S Gladys Kell is the belle of the north, having just enjoyed her 40th trip on the Orient Express.
Gladys, 87, first travelled on the opulent Orient Express four decades ago, and was hooked by the experience.
She has made regular trips on it ever since, along with her friend Mavis Ward.
Last week she boarded the Northern Belle Orient Express at Leeds, for the 40th time making her, arguably, its most frequent passenger.
She was accompanied on the four and a half hour journey from Leeds to Stockport, Sheffield, York and back by her daughters Christine Rhodes and Wendy March and her grand-daughter Deborah Coxon.
Mavis was due to have been there as well but, as she is recovering from a fall, she was unable to go.
“I was really sickened that Mavis couldn’t come, because it would have been her 40th trip as well,” said Gladys.
“But we’ll just have to do it again and the staff will make as big a fuss of Mavis as they did of me!
“It was the most magnificent trip. We had a wonderful five course meal, and got through three bottles of champagne between us.
“I’ve been going so often the staff all know me now. The chef always comes to see me, and asks what I want to change on the menu because he knows I’m faddy, and he always makes me an apple pie!
“I can’t speak highly enough of the staff. When I was poorly recently they sent me flowers and cards, they are just so lovely.
“There was music in the carriages and we had a good sing-along and there was also a conjurer.
“Then near the end of the journey the lights went out in the carriage and the next thing I knew the staff were in front of me with a ‘40th journey’ cake - with a picture of the Northern Belle on it.
“I was just flabbergasted that they had gone to all that trouble for me.
“I’ve been so lucky in my life to have travelled to lots of parts of the world, but I love the Orient Express more than anything. Everything about it is magnificent and it makes you feel really special.
“I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to go on it so many times.”