BY HER own admission, Sheila Sharpless is not your average 90-year-old.
With two books published in the last six years, one in the process of being edited and one ready to be penned, she shows no signs of slowing down.
Born on September 28 1923 in Essex, Mrs Sharpless was evacuated to Devon during the war, where she worked for six months as a farmers’ assistant.
On returning she trained in speech and drama at the Royal Academy and Guildhall School of Music before marrying Douglas James Sharpless, an engineer, and moving to Chigwell. The couple had three children, Graham, Jennie and Andy. Mr Sharpless died five years ago.
Mrs Sharpless studied for her teachers’s certificate once the family had moved to Sussex, was employed by London College University, studied for her masters and became an examiner.
She also took a dance certificate and ran scriptural dancing groups for several years.
In 2007 Mrs Sharpless, who lives in Goring with her dog Bella, wrote Teaching the National Curriculum Through Drama, prompted by her granddaughter Rebecca who is a teacher.
Later came a short novel for girls, Mystery on Bear’s Island, for which Mrs Sharpless is currently writing a sequel.
The grandmother of five and great grandmother of six celebrated her birthday with the whole family on Saturday.
She said: “I have had a very varied life and it has been wonderful. I do not want to slow down.
“I always say that chocolate and red wine have kept me going.
“My family are all quite spread out but we try to get together quite often. I have got so much love for them all and I hate not seeing them.”
Her great grandson Samuel Gilbert, 11, said: “Nan is still writing and still getting her books published so she is not like a normal nan.
“She is really fun and it is nice to celebrate with her and the whole family.”