Sprightly Nancy ready for launch of debut book at grand age of 96!

Nancy Titman, from Deeping St James, who has written a book which will be launched in May. She is pictured with some of the publications she has contributed to.
Nancy Titman, from Deeping St James, who has written a book which will be launched in May. She is pictured with some of the publications she has contributed to.
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A sprightly great grand-mother is celebrating her 96th birthday by launching a book.

Nancy Titman will be signing copies of Swift To Tell at a drop-in session at Priory Church Hall in Deeping St James on Saturday, May 31, from 11am to 5pm.

The former teacher, who was born at the end of the First World War, is publishing recollections of life in The Deepings from the 1920s onwards.

Mrs Titman, who lives in Church Street, Deeping St James and is known as Mama to her large family, has already achieved national fame.

Seven years ago a family heirloom in her possession made it to the pages of local and national newspapers and even earned her a spot on Richard and Judy’s television show.

The item in question was a preserved hot cross bun, made by her great great great grandfather, a London baker, in 1821 – the year of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death.

Nancy said: “It was always said that a hot cross bun made on Good Friday would never go mouldy. He gave it to his mother and it got handed down.”

The 193-year-old bun, kept in a small cardboard box, did not go mouldy but now looks rather brittle and has lost its currants. It is still attracting attention – Nancy turned down an invitation to appear on The One Show on BBC television just last year.

It was Dorothea Price, leader of the local history group, who suggested to Mrs Titman that the bun might make a good story.

Nancy said: “After the local paper reported the story, the phone started ringing.

“Yorkshire TV were 
here by 10.30am, we had newspapers and radio stations on to us, two or three photographers came round, the BBC’s Anthony Bartram visited and then I was invited on to Richard & Judy.”

She said she had enjoyed all the attention.

“I loved it - for the Richard & Judy show they sent a car to collect me,” she said.

“ It was quite an experience to be on the telly. It was a Friday and Richard and Judy were going home to Cornwall but we had our photo taken with Richard.

“He was very nice and we got to go in the green room and see the studio where Saturday Kitchen is made.”

While a member of the local history group, Nancy had contributed stories to their newsletters and to The Lincolnshire Poacher magazine.

“I wrote a little tale in each one of them. I have always told stories and my family said I should write them down,” she said.

The book has been edited by her daughter Marion and 500 copies are being printed.

Nancy was born in a house in Bridge Street, Deeping St James on June 2, 1918. Three years later her family swapped houses with her grandmother in Eastgate 
after her grandfather died.

In 1991 she moved to Swift Cottage, only a few hundred yards away from where she was born. She only left the Deepings to do teacher training in the London area, returning to spend 21 years teaching at Deeping St Nicholas Primary School.

She met her husband Bob, who died in 1985, at a church hall dance.

Bob was from North-borough and was born in the white cottage next to the church which had also been home to his grandparents.

His father helped at the church, digging graves and bell-ringing as well as working on a local farm. When the church acquired part of the cottage garden for a graveyard, Bob’s mum ended up being buried in her own garden!

Nancy recalls life in the Deepings in the 1920s as a more gentle, innocent time.

“But it was more disciplined, people worked hard and the streets were busy, not like they are now,” she said.

“Most of the cottages were lived in by tradesmen, they weren’t smartly painted and neat like today.”

Her parents were Charles and Edith Swift, a cattle dealer and a teacher. She went into teaching because it was one of few choices for intelligent girls in those days.

Nancy has four children – retired nurse Anthea, 66, Robert, 64, a retired design engineer, who both live in the Deepings, Marion, 63, a retired teacher who lives at Woodhall Spa and Deborah, 59, a retired secretary from Hayling Island.

There are nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“I have lots of nieces as well, I’ve got a lovely family and they all get on well,” Nancy said.

She has always enjoyed reading, writing and knitting and is a former artist, producing some commendable watercolours. Her book is illustrated with 
old photos of the Deepings.

Still in good health, she attends Priory Church, where she has held various roles, including chairman of the Ladies Fellowship and organist.

“I’ve done lots of things. I keep going but I don’t do as much as I used to,” she said.

Formerly a prolific letter writer, with several penpals, she also enjoys travelling and visited Australia for Siege of Tobruk anniversary celebrations – her husband served there alongside Anzac troops.

Another interesting fact is that she had a grandfather named Harry Potter!

Nancy has no particular recipe for living to such a great age. “I’ve never been one for sport or exercise but I’ve been very lucky, I’ve always been well and I have a fantastic family,” she said.