Chatty Wellingborough great-grandma Jill to celebrate 100th birthday with glass of bubbly

Joyce 'Jill' Linsley was born in Broad Green in the town in 1921

A Wellingborough great-grandmother will celebrate her 100th birthday today with a socially-distanced party a stone's throw from the street where she was born.

Joyce Linsley, known as Jill, has lived in Wellingborough for a century except for one year spent in Chipping Camden as a schoolgirl, and a six-month sight-seeing trip around Canada in the 1980s.

Born on March 31, 1921, to greengrocers Winifred and Arthur Abrams, in the room above the arch at 39 Broad Green, Jill likes to point out her birthplace every time she passes by saying 'I was born there'.

Jill Linsley - 100 years old today (March 31, 2021)

Eldest grandson Alan Perkins, 53, who lives in Kettering, said: "She's lively, chatty and affable and likes a joke and a laugh.

"With the help of family, nan was able to stay in her home on Queensway until quite recently and now, she is still enjoying life at the Kenroyal nursing home on Oxford Street.

"Though she’s not mobile anymore, she's generally in good health and is well looked after by Salia and her caring staff.

"Nan still loves chatting with everyone, with a special mention to David who usually sits next to her in the day room. She looks forward to visitors now they are allowed again and still chats non-stop even through a screen."

On her trusty tricycle

Her strong family connection to the area goes back generations with her granddad Louis Bright responsible for carving the ornate wooden doors of the Lloyd's Bank in Market Street.

Her mum’s side of the family were living in Wilby in the early 1800s and her dad’s family came from London originally and owned a pawnbroker’s shop in Pebble Lane.

Jill’s parents Winifred and Arthur owned a fruit and veg shop in Mill Road.

When it went out of business and she went to live with her aunt in Chipping Camden for a year during which time the family moved to Elm Street where her little sister Teresa was born in 1932.

In the 1960s with husband Jonty

When things had improved her parents opened a new shop, Abram’s Greengrocers, in Cannon Street.

Jill returned to Wellingborough and attended Park Street School.

A keen netball player, she was asked by her school to be on the team even after she had left school and she went to work at the Ideal Clothes factory, following in her mother’s footsteps.

Jill met her future husband Jonathan - known as Jonty or ‘Titch’ - at a dance.

Jill with her children - Mary, RIchard and Megan

They married in 1944 and had three children Megan, Richard and Mary, but Jonty died when Jill was just 51.

Using skills learnt as a St John’s Ambulance nurse during the Second World War and at the Park Hospital, Jill later worked as an industrial nurse at Copeland & Jenkins and at the doll factory in Westfield Road in the 1970s.

Jill also moved to a flat in the then new Queensway development in the 1970s where she lived for around 40 years.

Alan said: "Jill later took a job at the fizzy drink factory.

"One day, while taking a short-cut through the allotments to get to work, Jill fell over and broke her leg.

"A favourite story is that the person who eventually heard her cries for help thought it was a crow making all the noise.

As a St John Ambulance nurse

"Jill recovered but the steel plate and pin in her leg triggered airport scanners thereafter when she travelled to visit her relatives around the world.

"In the mid-1980s, she took a six-month trip to visit her daughter, son and their families who now lived in Canada and travelled around seeing as much as she could in that time.

"In the early 1990s, she visited Canada again, spending Christmas and her birthday with family there and travelling some more.

"At age 88, Jill took off to New Zealand to see her sister and her family who had moved there in the late 1960s.

"She also visited the Netherlands, including a trip on the Eurostar for her 90th birthday, and took a cruise to see the fjords in Norway at age 92."

Over the past year, visits have been restricted but the family is hoping that the good weather and an easing of restrictions will allow the family to finally meet up for a socially-distanced celebration.

He added: "She's been a constant presence in our lives. She looked after her local grandchildren in the 1970s and 80s and in the 2000s, she looked after her great-grandchildren as well.

"She has loved watching them all grow up nearby, enjoying summer barbecues and trips to Wicksteed Park.

“It's been very tough this year and my mum (Mary) has been going in as often as she can.

"The weather forecast is looking good so we shall take over a bottle of bubbly and a cake - all at a distance. She likes a party and she makes the most of every minute."

Jill has three children - Megan, Richard and Mary-, six nieces, eight grandchildren - Alan, Richard, Caroline, Susan, Catherine, Vincent Christine and Alison and 12 great-grandchildren, many of whom still live in Northamptonshire.

With the carved wooden doors of the Lloyds Bank in Wellingborough, made by her granddad