A woman who proved to her hometown she was more than just the “chemist’s daughter” has celebrated her 103rd birthday at a Deeside care home.
Growing up, Janet Cruickshank was well-known in Uttoxeter in Staffordshire – but only because he father Ernest Mellor ran the local pharmacy.
But after she left school at 18, she made a name for herself – becoming the town’s first female optician after studying at the London Optical Institute.
Mrs Cruickshank set up her own practice in Uttoxeter, upstairs from her father’s chemist shop, at the age of just 21.
She later set up shop elsewhere in the town.
“I was always known as Mr Mellor the chemist’s daughter,” she said.
“But I was the first woman optician in the area, and had my own shop.”
During World War II, she worked in a Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) canteen and was also involved with the Red Cross.
She also met husband-to-be Andrew, a farmer’s son from Hawkhillock, Ardallie, during the conflict.
The couple married in 1947, and moved to Aberdeen to start a new life together.
Mrs Cruickshank said: “I always said I would never marry a man that was a farmer because it wasn’t my cup of tea.
“But he worked for the marts, so that was different.
“He worked at Maud Mart, and everyone knew him because he was a cashier.
“There were many nights when he’d bring the money home and we’d sleep with it tucked under pillows.”
Mrs Cruickshank settled in the north-east, working as an optician at Black and Lizars in Aberdeen.
She also kept busy by singing with Rubislaw Parish Church Choir, tending to her “beautiful” garden in the city’s Leslie Road, or driving her yellow Triumph Dolomite.
Mr Cruickshank died of leukaemia in 1995, and his wife – who loves the countryside – remained at home until about 10 years ago when she moved to Ballater.
She still writes to her friends, and is often spotted reading letters and the paper with her magnifying glass.
Katrina Grant, who organises activities at the home, said: “The staff here think she’s simply wonderful for 103. She’s very determined to still do everything for herself.
“We decided to organise a party because we really do think she should be spoilt and celebrated.”