Former county swimmer celebrates 100th birthday

Former Worthing mayor Tom Wye presents Irene Leigh-Jones with a card from the Queen at her 100th birthday celebrations. Picture: Steve Robards SR1628573
Former Worthing mayor Tom Wye presents Irene Leigh-Jones with a card from the Queen at her 100th birthday celebrations. Picture: Steve Robards SR1628573

Irene Leigh-Jones celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday with family, friends and a special visitor.

Former Worthing mayor Tom Wye joined the party at the Victoria Grand care home in Mill Road, Worthing, and presented Irene with a card from the Queen.

Son Graham Leigh-Jones said: “He made my mother feel extremely special.”

Irene, the youngest of four children, was born in Steyning but her main childhood home was in Hove. She was married to Howard in 1943.

Graham said his father and uncle had been in business in Brighton but when that broke up, the family moved to South Africa. It did not really work out, so after six months, they went to Canada instead. They lived there from 1948 to 1960 and Graham’s sister, Carol, was born in Canada.

On return to England, the family set up home in Worthing because Irene’s sisters lived in the town.

Howard died in 1997 and at that point, Graham took redundancy from Ford Motor Company and moved south to help look after his mother and aunts.

Graham said: “She was a very tidy lady and entirely independent. She now has vascular dementia but is otherwise in good health.

“She was a brilliant swimmer in her younger days and I believe she swam for the county.”

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