Centenarian celebrates own story

Mrs Sheila Sweeten at home at The Cornmill
Mrs Sheila Sweeten at home at The Cornmill
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Garstang resident Mrs Sheila Sweeten has 100 reasons to celebrate.

She recently marked her centenary with a family party attended by relatives, some of whom had travelled from overseas to be at the special event.

Mrs Sweeten, whose family ran the well known north west chain of Sweeten’s bookshops, with branches in Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn and Bolton, formerly lived in Lytham. Home now is The Cornmill nursing and residential care home on Bonds Lane.

When the Courier called she reflected on her long life, her family’s regional bookshop empire and her many interests.

A seasider, she was brought up in Blackpool where her father had a toyshop and worked during the winter months as a a commercial traveller selling toys and china. One of four children, she attended The Girls High School on Lytham Road, Blackpool. Her many interests included dancing, swimming and gymnastics and she later worked as a dancing teacher, taking classes at private schools including Rossall, Queen Mary and Casterton - where her maiden name of Legge caused much amusement.

In the swimming field she became an accomplished diver: “I had a friend at school and we were both pretty athletic, pretty good at gym and things. We dived off the top board at South Shore baths - they don’t exist any more. The boards were high and I had never learned. But I was just so determined to do it before my friend did.”

She married Harold and recalled that the bookshop chain started in Keswick, before extending into Lancashire. Now a great grandmother many times over she prides herself on her linguistic skills.

“I speak Italian, I learnt it when we bought a house in Italy and I speak French, (We had a house in the Dordogne) and I speak a bit of German because I’ve got a German daughter-in-law. I’m very keen on languages.”

As for being 100 - when asked what it’s like Mrs Sweeten replied: “It’s a bit overpowering really!”