40-year-old Gladys's husband William Arkwright had died after only a year of marriage, leaving her with no children. Before Glad Tidings, she attended the Salvation Army chapel on Clarence Street. She lived in the single-room caretaker's accommodation known as the vestry.
Gladys was well-liked by everybody in Coronation Street except the publicans, as alcohol was her sworn enemy and she gave weekly sermons outside the Rovers Return on the evils of drink. She believed that even the most committed sinners could be saved and worked to ensure that Glad Tidings remained a relaxed place of worship people would want to visit. During her time in the Street, she befriended some of the more isolated members of the community, including Cedric Thwaite and Sidney Hayes. She also mentored Ena Schofield and was godmother to her daughters Vera and Madge. In 1937 she gave her last sermon outside the Rovers, admonishing Billy Chad for never being at the Mission on Sundays. Billy pushed her out of the way, causing Gladys to fall and crack her head on the cobbles. She was killed instantly.