A WOMAN who was the first ever guest in a Barnsley residential home has died just short of her 103rd birthday after more than 30 years as a resident.

And the manager and owner of Park House Residential Home in Worsbrough Village, Gloria Crabtree, has paid tribute to 102-year-old Constance Howard with whom she forged a strong friendship after ‘Connie’ became the home’s first guest in 1989.

“We looked upon each other as family,” said Gloria, who owns Park House alongside husband Paul.

“Connie always had the utmost respect for me and the staff and she became a dear friend. She was always served first at dinner time.

“I’m still reeling from it. I still feel her presence here, she was a most remarkable woman.

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“Everybody here loved her and all shed a tear.”

Connie, formerly of Royston Hill, Hoyland, was educated at a local girls’ high school and later the technical college, and worked in the trading club office for the Barnsley Co-operative.

She never married, instead choosing to look after her family after her mother died when Connie was 25 years old.

Connie joined the Women’s Land Army for two years, and later worked for the ambulance service until she was 60.

She loved nature and after becoming a guest at Park House would spend much of her time in the greenhouse and orchard, picking fruit for other guests.

She also enjoyed spending time with the home’s 20-year-old ginger tom cat Harry.

Connie’s funeral will take place at the Church of St Mary, Worsbrough, on Tuesday July 11 at 9.30am with arrangements by G M Charlesworth (753208).