FORMER Hellifield woman Connie Sutcliffe, who spent her early years in Australia, will celebrate her 100th birthday on Monday.
Born in North London, she moved to North Finchley to live with her grandparents until her mother obtained a job, through the Australian Embassy, as a cook/housekeeper on a one-million acre sheep station in New South Wales outback.
Connie and her mother left the UK in the early 1920s on the SS Oransey bound for Sydney.
Many weeks later they arrived at Butterbone Stud Park Farm, travelling by train, stage coach and finally horse and cart.
Connie went to school in Orange through the week. It involved a 19-kilometre ride along a rough track to the so-called road from where she picked up a stage coach to Orange where she stayed through the week returning to Butterbone for weekends and holidays.
While at Butterbone, Connie became skilled on horseback hunting with the men for wild boar, chasing kangaroos and rounding up wild horses.
When her mother met and married an ex-pat, they returned to England in 1932, on one of
the first ships to sail under the newly-opened Sydney Harbour Bridge.
They settled in the Bedale area and later, as a nurse, Connie moved to a hospital in
Cleckheaton where she met and married, Jack, in 1935.
They moved to Doncaster, had three children, before moving first to Birkenshaw and then to Hellifield in 1953 where Connie ran a sweets and tobacconist shop.
On selling the business, they moved to Midland Terrace and then to Gisburn Road. Jack died in 1993 but Connie continued to live in Gisburn Road until failing eyesight meant that she needed full time care and so moved into Neville House in May 2013.
Apart from Australia, Connie has travelled widely overseas to Iran, France, Barbados, Crete, as well as all over the British Isles by motorbike and car, camping much of the time with children, cat, kittens and dogs in tow.
Connie will celebrate her birthday with a party at Neville House and then a family lunch at Coniston Hotel, Coniston Cold, next Saturday, July 26, with her three children, ten grandchildren and partners and 17 great-grandchildren.