Oldest person in Lancashire: Preston great-great-grandmother celebrates turning 108

A great-great-grandmother from Preston, who is believed to be the oldest person in Lancashire, has just celebrated reaching her 108th birthday.

Jean Garstang was born on November 23, 1914 in Preston and has lived in and around the area her whole life, moving to Hoghton to be close to family when she was 85.

A Tulketh Mill dressmaker, Jean used to make all the clothes for her four children (Pam, Christine, Jean and Jack), and now also boasts 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

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Her father died in World War One when she was two, and she worked at a munitions factory, stencilling numbers onto bombs, in the Second World War. As a young lady she always loved to dance, often visiting ballrooms, and even to this day, she still does the Charleston when family visit her.

Jean Garstang celebrates turning 108 with fish and chips and a glass of bubbly

Jean’s husband Jack, a printers assistant for the Lancashire Post and Daily Express, died aged 59, when she was 60, and it was then that she took up dancing again, going a few times a week in Blackpool and Preston.

Aged 65, she took the long trip alone to Australia for her granddaughter’s wedding and visited a further couple of times after this, again on her own.

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Speaking of her birthday, Jean told the Post: “It feels good to be 108, l'm happy l have got my two daughters that visit me regularly and all my lovely family live near and l am much loved by them all.”

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Jean Garstang celebrates turning 108 with her daughters Christine and Pam

To celebrate, Jean’s family took her out for lunch at the Cavendish Arms in Brindle, in a group spanning five generations.

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Her grandson Nick Molynneaux said: “To be celebrating my Nana's 108th birthday is such a proud feeling, we thought reaching 100 was an achievement and the family all suspected she may not be around much longer than that, however she continues to amaze us year after year. The fact that she's probably the oldest person in Lancashire is also amazing too.

“As a child growing up my fondest memories are baking scones and fairy cakes with her – there was mess everywhere, but they tasted amazing. As she got older and technology changed I was regularly asked to come and "fix" the TV. She had a habit of pulling the aerial out of the back when things didn't appear to be working, and then claim someone else must have done it. I've connected more aerials to a TV than your average TV engineer!

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“Christmas Day is always a great day for us to get together as a family, and there would often be 20+ of us at my cousins. As she grew older and her appetite wasn't what it was, she decided the best way to clear her plate was to feed Milly the labrador under the table thinking no-one had noticed, of course we all had! Prior to dinner she would discretely slip the grandchildren £5 notes telling them not to tell anyone, although everyone knew what was going on as she'd been doing it for about 50 years, it was just the next generations turn.

Left: Jean sitting down next to her sister, Mary. Right: Jean with her late husband, Jack.
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“It’s been amazing to celebrate another birthday out for lunch with my Nana, she truly is amazing, she's seen five monarchs, 20 prime ministers and survived two world wars and two pandemics, that takes some beating!”

Jean Garstang celebrates turning 108 with her great great grandaughter Elodie, six months old