Grandmother who got on a motorcycle aged 105 passes away

Babs Self motorbike

Babs' 105th birthday riding a Goldwing motorbike - after staff at Layston Grove organised the occasion for her. - Credit: Courtesy of Helene Phillpotts 

The family of a great-grandmother who had a lifelong passion for motorbikes and loved her time in Royston has paid tribute to her after her death at the grand old age of 106.

Babs in ROyston

Babs as a youngster. - Credit: Courtesy of Helene Phillpotts

Florence Minnie Self - known as Babs - moved to Royston aged 89 and lived at Blackett Ord Court in the town before moving to Layston Grove care home in Buntingford two years ago. 

She raised her two children, Bernard, now 80, and Gillian - now 74 - single-handed, and worked for Rediffusion and then Unilever as a secretary in Leighton Buzzard, before retiring at 68.

Babs Self Royston

Babs, aged 21, with dog, Punch. - Credit: Courtesy of Helene Phillpotts

Babs' granddaughter Helene Phillpotts told the Crow: "She had a good sense of humour, she was always happy. Many people knew her in town. She was a customer at Royston's NatWest and and they had a picture up of her on the wall. And she would talk to the staff in Morrisons - she loved a chat and she loved living in Royston. 

Florence Self - known as Babs - has passed away aged 106

Babs daughter Gill, granddaughter Claire and three of her great grandchildren - Liam, Tori and Connor - Credit: Courtesy of Helene Phillpotts

"She was community-minded and everywhere she lived she would be sociable and run clubs like 'tea and chat'. She was also involved in the Women's Royal Voluntary Service and St John Ambulance. 


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"One of her hobbies was bowls, and all her life she liked motorbikes. They were her passion so much so that Layston Grove staff organised for her to go out on a motorbike when she was 105. She used to ride on the back of her brother's motorbike when she was young.

"The name Babs came about as she was the youngest of eight children, so had the nickname 'baby' which got shortened to babes and then 'Babs'. People used to call her Barbara thinking that was her name!"

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Helene said Babs loved her family and being a grandmother - she had five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Helene said: "She was proud of her independence. She didn't want a meals-on-wheels at first or a shopping trolley because she said they were for 'old people' - she didn't get a shopping trolley until she was 90. 

"When she turned 100, she had a party where she was living at Blackett-Ord Court. And got cards from The Queen at 100, 105 and 106."

Babs Royston 106

Babs with staff at Layston Grove. - Credit: Courtesy of Helene Phillpotts

Babs passed away on February 12. 

"I was so grateful to have my nan for so long," said 54-year-old Helene.

"She was a very strong and determined lady, and was fit and well right up until the end."

"When she broke her hip two years ago the paramedics said 'can you gather her medication?' and my mum said she wasn't on any and they couldn't believe it."

I think the secret to her long life was that she never drove so she walked everywhere and she limited herself to one chocolate a day.

"We think she was the oldest person in Royston!"

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