Shopkeeper and ‘first person in town to own a car’ celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 12:54 04 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:37 05 October 2020

Kathleen Webster of Dereham is celebrating her 100th birthday today. Photo: Rosie Walker

Kathleen Webster of Dereham is celebrating her 100th birthday today. Photo: Rosie Walker

Rosie Walker

A popular shopkeeper whose daughter says she was the first person in her town to own a car will celebrate her 100th birthday today.

Kathleen Webster, who was born in Toftwood in 1920, ran Webster’s Stores on Quebec Street in Dereham and became the first person in the town to own a car when she purchased a green Vauxhall.

Ms Webster, who also worked as a lady’s maid at Mileham Hall, has lived in the town all her life.

She said: “I can’t believe that I am that old, because I do everything.

“I look after my bungalow, I go every Friday morning to have my hair washed and set and I go into the market and get the shopping I want.

“I look after myself, I cook my meals everyday.

“I am looking forward to my party, I can’t believe I’m that old.”

Her carer Jeanette Higgins described her as amazing, after launching a Facebook campaign to get Ms Webster 100 cards for her 100th birthday.

It came after daughter Rosie Walker, who lives in Italy, looked unlikely to be able to get to her 100th birthday party due to restrictions on flying.

Despite her age Ms Webster still regularly visits her daughter in Italy, but because of the virus she has not been able to fly this year.

Thankfully Ms Walker was able to reach the UK four days ago and will be able to share her mother’s birthday with her.

She said: “I’ve only been back a few days so I’m now catching up with what is going on, but I can’t miss her birthday can I?

“I think a lot of people would know her for being the first person in town to have a car, because she didn’t have a lot of money when she started that shop, but she also used to work at Mileham Hall as a lady’s maid to the lord and lady of the manor. That was when she met my father.

“She built up her shop from nothing and eventually became quite well off.”

She added: “She’s lived a local life, she’s always lived in the town and everything in her life has always been around Dereham.

“Her main saying is ‘I want to do it my way’.”

Ms Walker said Ms Webster’s mother also lived a long life, reaching 101.

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