Jean has lived through two World Wars, five monarchs, more than 20 Prime Ministers, the 1918 Spanish Flu and the Covid pandemic
Jean with her daughters Christine and Pam
A great-great-grandmother who made bombs during the Second World War has turned 108 today – becoming the oldest woman in Lancashire.
Martha Jean Garstang, known affectionately as Jean, grew up on Norris Street in Preston. The 108-year-old has four children – Jean, Christine, Jack and Pam – 10 grandchildren, a staggering 19 great-grandchildren and even two great-great-grandchildren.
During her life, Jean has lived through two World Wars, five monarchs, more than 20 Prime Ministers, the 1918 Spanish Influenza and the global Coronavirus pandemic. She recently enjoyed a trip to Blackpool Lights and tucked into a McDonald’s on the way home and plans to celebrate her birthday with a glass of Scotch.
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Jean was born during the first year of the First World War and lost her father, Sergeant Edward Flannagan who, was killed in action aged 30 in 1916, when she was just a toddler. She had one sister and after her mother remarried, three half-brothers and a half-sister as well.
During the Second World War, Jean was in her twenties and worked in Exton at the munitions factory and stencilled the numbers onto bombs.
After the war, she worked at Tulketh Mill and she made all her children’s clothes. As teenagers, they would pick out bolts of cloth on Saturdays and she would create something for the evening that afternoon.
She met her husband Jack through her love of ballroom dancing. After he passed away aged 59, she took up sequence dancing once again.
Today (November 23), Jean is celebrating her 108th birthday and plans to do so with a glass of Scotch. She said: “It was quite easy, getting to 108!”
She will also spend her day with five generations of her family at a special restaurant lunch and then a party with family and friends afterwards – and getting a card from King Charles.
Jean lived in sheltered housing from the age of 85 at Manybrook House, before she moved next door to Arrowsmith Lodge in December 2020.
Her daughter Christine said: “She is very feisty and loves dancing, music, family and is especially proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren!
“She loves it at Arrowsmith Lodge as she has a bit more company and it’s been really positive for her. Her health is very good. She always enjoys music and loves dancing, her favourite is the Charleston! She will still get up now to dance if she hears one of her favourites – and corrects me if my feet aren’t positioned exactly right!”
County councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult social care, added: “It is amazing that Jean is now the oldest woman in Lancashire. From everyone at Lancashire County Council, we wish her a wonderful day.”
- 09:22, 23 NOV 2022
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