A BURY Market trader has retired after serving customers there for more than 50 years following a battle with cancer.

John Cooper took over the running of family business Coopers Quality Fabrics on his own 30 years ago, but has served the firm for 54 years in total.

The company, which dates back to 1946, closed for the final time on Saturday

John said: “I left school at 15, did a five-year apprenticeship as a joiner and then came into the family business at 20 and I’ve done that ever since.

“I enjoyed it, I got to meet lots of nice people and made friends with the traders around me.

“But I won’t miss getting up early in the morning, I think the time to finish is right, I’ll be 74 in May.

"However, there’s another side to this story, I’ve been through quite a lot in the past five years.”

John has been battling various cancers in the last five years, which is one of the reasons why he has decided to retire.

Five years ago, he was diagnosed with breast cancer before being told he had skin cancer and kidney cancer.

He has had two operations and only six months ago he had an operation to remove his whole kidney.

John added: “Then I had prostate cancer and more recently, one of the reasons I’m closing is I have asbestos-related lung cancer from my joinery days.

“It takes 50 to 55 years to get to the lungs, so I’ve got to have three months of chemotherapy.

“A lot of people won’t realise this because I have carried on working all the way through this however, I thought on this occasion it’s time to call it a day.

“I think 54 years is a long time, I’m sorry to leave the market as it’s been quite sudden and has been done quite quickly in the last six to eight weeks, but we decided now was the time.”

He said he has done lots of markets over the years but Bury has been the main one.

He added: “I have been working until recently up to six days a week and in the last 30 years I’ve been running the stall on my own.

“The market management have been really good because I’ve had to miss quite a few days for various operations and things, so I have been well looked after in that respect.”

John’s last day of trading was Saturday and he started his chemotherapy on Monday.