Matriarch of Fisherman’s Friend cough drops empire dies at 91
Doreen Lofthouse, who helped transform Fisherman’s Friend cough sweets from a small firm in northern England into a global brand, has died at 91, officials said.
She married into the Lofthouse family in the 1960s and helped their business, based in Fleetwood, Lancashire, achieve worldwide recognition while retaining local production.
Doreen Lofthouse was known in the area as “the Mother of Fleetwood.”
The town council announced her death on Facebook late Tuesday, writing: “Terribly sad news that the Mother of Fleetwood, Doreen Lofthouse, has passed.”
Fleetwood Weekly News reported that she died in Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The district’s Wyre Council said in a statement, “Mrs Lofthouse was a true pioneer of Fleetwood and her generosity has helped to transform Fleetwood.”
The family foundation has donated large amounts to the town of 25,000 residents, including support for the hospital and lifeboats.
In 2019, the family announced they were setting aside £30 million ($41 million, 35 million euros) to pay for community projects in Fleetwood.
Fisherman’s Friend was created in 1865 by James Lofthouse, a pharmacist in the coastal town, first as liquid, then as lozenges, to help deep-sea fishermen deal with sore throats and coughs.
But until the 1960s, the pungent sweets were only sold locally by the company, Lofthouse of Fleetwood.
Doreen is credited with changing that after marrying Tony Lofthouse, who headed the firm until his death in 2018.
According to The Times, Doreen Lofthouse commented that the family back then “still thought of Yorkshire as an export market”, referring to the neighbouring county.
She became involved in the business, changing the packaging to look more traditional, featuring a red-and-black drawing of a fishing boat.
Sales to Scandinavia and other European countries were followed by Asia and the company built a bigger factory in 1972 to meet demand.
It now produces more than five billion lozenges a year, sold in more than 100 countries, and employs almost 400 staff.
The Lancashire Evening Post dubbed it “the lozenge which took over the world”.
Doreen Lofthouse was awarded an OBE for her charity work in 2007.