Doreen Sheehan gets on a vintage bike brought in especially for her 100th birthday at Dougherty Villa.
Doreen Sheehan gets on a vintage bike brought in especially for her 100th birthday at Dougherty Villa. Adam Hourigan Photography

Sheehan rides into a century

HER relatives say she is fearless, and yesterday Doreen Sheehan proved it.

With a photo behind her of her in her younger days riding a classic Norton motorbike, she had a helping hand to get aboard a bike brought into Dougherty Villa.

She leant forward, grabbed the handlebars, settled into a familiar riding position, and leaned into a mock turn with a cheeky smile to rapturous applause of the gathered crowd.

Quite a treat on her 100th birthday.

"People keep asking me how I feel today, and what's it like to have an 100th birthday," she said.

"I don't really know yet, I've never been 100 before."

Ms Sheehan enjoyed a morning tea with her fellow residents and family at Dougherty Villa, which included a a photo display showing her younger years, including her bike riding exploits.

Born in Grafton, Ms Sheehan was schooled at Southgate before moving into Grafton at 12 years old to work for a Grafton family.

She moved to Sydney to help her sister-in-law with a baby, and when the Second World War broke out, she was forced to stay, making boots for soldiers.

She married her husband Thomas, who was a veteran of the Kokoda campaign, in 1949 and lived in Sydney.

They had three children, Colin, Alan and John.

Ms Sheehan now has five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

After her husband died, she came back home to Grafton, living in Clarence Village for 16 years before moving to Dougherty Villa two years ago.

And she hasn't slowed down yet.

With an iPad in her room for puzzles and reading, she said she'd had a few teething troubles with the new technology.

"I tried to Google something the other day, but it didn't like what I was asking because I kept saying please," she said.

"It took me three goes to ask it a question without being polite."

A dressmaker by trade, Ms Sheehan has a passion for craft and sewing, and has recently returned to crochet work.

She is helping a project to make 50,000 poppies for Anzac Day.

"I told them I could probably have them done by the weekend," she laughed.

Her family said her dressmaking skills were renowned, saying she had to have everything perfect in her work or everything would need to be redone.

And today, her eye was still as sharp as ever on modern garments.

"Some of them you see, they are just all over the place," Ms Sheehan said.

"They definitely don't make them like they used to."


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