A GUINNESS-DRINKING great grandmother has celebrated her 105th birthday, years after telling her daughter she would prefer not to reach a ripe old age.
Harriet Sims, who has lived in the Ashbourne area for much of her life, celebrated her 105th birthday last week with daughter Shirley Harrison at a nursing home in Tutbury.
Born Harriet Perkins, to a mining family in Hednesford, near Rugeley, in 1907, Mrs Sims had one brother and two sisters.
She loved making clothes and after leaving school, she worked in a Birmingham dress shop before taking jobs as a silver service waitress at some of the city’s top hotels.
Mrs Sims married Percy in 1927 and they lived in lodgings before buying a house in Birmingham where Mr Sims portered at the city’s New Street Station before landing a job as an engine driver, a position which took the couple to Derbyshire.
Mr Sims was transferred to Shottle and he and his wife bought a smallholding in nearby Cross O’th Hands.
The move to the countryside allowed Mrs Sims to indulge her love of animals by rearing pigs, poultry and Dexter cattle, as well as caring for her dogs and cats.
She also loved cycling and took regular trips as a pillion passenger on her husband’s motorbike but never rode as her only attempt ended with a crash into a hedge.
The couple moved to Doveridge in 1977 and remained there for 14 years until Mr Sims died in 1998, aged 95, ending their 70-year marriage.
Mrs Sims then moved into a barn conversion in Boylestone to be near her daughter, Shirley Harrison, and stayed there until suffering a fall in 2005.
She initially moved in with her daughter after having a hip replacement but visited Fauld House, in Tutbury, for respite care and eventually made it her permanent home.
Mrs Sims enjoys a glass of Guinness a day a tipple reported to be the secret of her long life and once enjoyed five cigarettes a day and the occasional sherry.
Her daughter said she was delighted by her mother’s achievement, telling the News Telegraph: “It’s marvellous because she’s always told me she did not want to live to a big age because people have to look after you.
“When she was young, a neighbour or a friend said she would ‘never make old bones’ because there was always something wrong with her.”