Preston’s Jean is the oldest woman in Lancashire as she celebrates her 108th birthday

Posted on - 24th November, 2022 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - People, Preston News, Proud Preston
Jean with her daughters Christine and Pam
Jean with her daughters Christine and Pam

The oldest woman in Lancashire, who made bombs during the Second World War, has celebrated her 108th birthday.


Preston’s Martha Jean Garstang, known affectionately as Jean, reached the milestone on Wednesday 23 November.

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She marked the day with five generations of her family at a special restaurant for lunch and then a party with family and friends afterwards – and a card from King Charles.

The mum of four, who grew up in Norris Street, has four children – Jean, Christine, Jack and Pam – 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

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Jean with her daughters Pam and Christine and staff at Arrowsmith Lodge
Jean with her daughters Pam and Christine and staff at Arrowsmith Lodge

Jean, who now lives at Arrowsmith Lodge, has lived through two World Wars, five monarchs, more than 20 Prime Ministers, the 1918 Spanish Influenza and the global Coronavirus pandemic.

She enjoys dancing, music, crochet, and time with her family. Down-to-earth Jean recently enjoyed a trip to Blackpool Lights and tucked into a McDonald’s on the way home.

Jean, celebrated the day with a glass of Scotch and said: “It was quite easy, getting to 108.”

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Jean with her sister Mary (Jean sat down)
Jean with her sister Mary (Jean sat down)

Jean was born during the first year of the First World War and tragically lost her father – Sergeant Edward Flannagan who, was killed in action aged 30 in 1916 – when Jean was just a toddler. She had one sister and after her mother remarried, three half-brothers and a half-sister as well.

In the Second World War, when Jean was in her twenties, she worked in Euxton 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 used to crochet and made toys, blankets, baby clothes and even a crocheted suit.

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Jean with her husband Jack
Jean with her husband Jack

She met her husband Jack through her love of ballroom dancing. After he passed away aged 59, she took up sequence dancing once again.

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.”

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Jean and her daughters Christine and Pam
Jean and her daughters Christine and Pam

County councillor Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “It is amazing that Jean is now the oldest woman in Lancashire. From everyone at Lancashire County Council, we wish her a wonderful day.”

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