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Seventy-five years in a row for Mablethorpe's most loyal fan

MABLETHORPE HAS its attractions. Last night, it was Seventies pop group the Grumbleweeds, come to switch on the illuminations. It has a beach train, donkeys, and a baked-potato bar. Last year, it had Mr Blobby. But none of these quite explains the passion of Fred Offiler, who this year will visit the Lincolnshire seaside town for the 75th year running.

Since 1923, Mr Offiler, 95, has visited Mablethorpe up to three times a year. The retired greengrocer of Beeston, Nottingham, first visited the resort with his future wife, Florence, when he was 20.

After Mr Offiler and his wife were married in 1929, the couple continued the tradition with their daughter, Dawn. Even the pressures of running their vegetable shop could not keep them from the resort: they just visited separately.

"We were so busy that we couldn't both go on holiday at the same time," Mr Offiler said. "Florence used to take Dawn for the first week. She would then leave her with the landlady of the guest house, whom we knew very well, for a few hours before coming back to Nottingham. I arrived a few hours later to enjoy the second week."

Even Mr Offiler's wife's death in 1983 did not stem his devotion to Mablethorpe. He now takes his border collie, Spot.

"This place makes me feel young again. It's full of great memories," he said. "I just love it here. Everyone enjoys themselves, there's great food and good beer."

Mr Offiler's enthusiasm has apparently infected his daughter, Dawn Lemon, 53, a university secretary. "I have been coming here ever since I can remember. It's great here. The people, the food, the entertainment. There's a really nice atmosphere about the place."

Mrs Lemon has accompanied her father every year since her mother died. "I just hope we're still coming here when he's 100," she said.

Keith Morrison, tourism and marketing manager for East Lindsey District Council, said Mr Offiler would be welcome "aged 100 - and beyond. Our previous record was 50 years".

In recognition of such loyalty, the town council has rewarded its most regular visitor with a commemorative brandy glass and a certificate.

How It Was

One week's bed and breakfast: 1920s, 30 shillings; 1999, pounds 90.

Donkey ride: 1920s, 1d; 1999, 50p.

Ice cream: 1920s, 1d; 1999, pounds 1.

Rock: 1920s, 6d; 1999, 50p.

Fish and chips: 1920s, 3d; 1999, pounds 3.