North Leeds: Retirement finally beckons for Sue, 73

Retirement party for Sue Cumming, pictured with collegue Mandy Szita, who is leaving her post as activity co-ordinator at Gledhow Christian Care Home at the age of 73.
Retirement party for Sue Cumming, pictured with collegue Mandy Szita, who is leaving her post as activity co-ordinator at Gledhow Christian Care Home at the age of 73.
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A great-grandmother from north Leeds has finally retired at the age of 73 after an interesting working life - including a stint hob-nobbing with the stars of the 1970s.

Sue Cumming has called it a day after 15 years as activities co-ordinator at Gledhow Christian Care Home, in Gledhow, where she brightened up residents’ days hosting a range of activities including bingo, reading, playing cards, and one-to-one activities including playing cards.

Sir Alan Ayckbourn at 75. Picture Richard Ponter

Sir Alan Ayckbourn at 75. Picture Richard Ponter

She also had plenty of tales to tell to keep residents - and staff - entertained from her years working as a PA for the playwright Alan Ayckbourn at the BBC at Woodhouse Lane in the 1970s, creating programmes for network radio.

She said: “It was hectic but I think it was the best time of my life.”

Among her jobs was to book stars to appear in Ayckbourn’s plays, including Joan Sims, Judi Dench, Ben Kingsley, Robert Powell and John Nettles.

She recalled: “We’d go over the road to The Fenton afterwards - big names who’d like nothing better than a plate of fish and chips. A few times we’d end up at the Queen’s Hotel - and not remember much the following morning. Or they’d come back to either mine or Alan’s flat - he lived a few doors down from me in Seacroft - and we’d natter into the small hours and listen to loud music.”

Sue - who was also queen of Children’s Day in 1957 - added: “Joan Sims was well-known as a big giggler. Often in recording we’d have to stop and start again. It was the same for Judi Dench.”

She eventually left to have children and went on to be a freelance script typer before working at Gledhow Christian Care Home.

She said it was now proving hard getting used to not working: “The first week I was a wreck, emotional and upset but I’ve felt better and better. I can have a rest and more time to do things now.”

Sarah Ibrahim, manager of Gledhow Christian Care Home, said: “It’s been a difficult decision for her to retire. Gledhow isn’t just employment to her, it was a lifestyle. She was over every day - she lives in a flat connected to the home. We’re like an extended family as well.”

She said Sue was by far her oldest employee and they will miss her a “tremendous amount”.

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