A MUCH-LOVED woman who has devoted her life to the community has been honoured.

Joan Webb who has been involved in Wincham Community Centre for more than 40 years has had a room named after her.

The 90-year-old was overcome with emotion when the committee unveiled their surprise retirement gift at an afternoon tea party on Saturday.

"I had tears in my eyes," said Joan, who served as chairman for 25 years. "It touched me when I saw my name on the club room door. I am thrilled to bits. I was really honoured."

Suzanne James, the centre's finance manager, said: "We wanted to do something special for her lifetime service. Joan is absolutely wonderful and has done so much for the community.

"She is always smiling and has a positive attitude. Her honesty, loyalty and unconditional commitment has been tremendous.

"She is 90 but her brain is at is was when she was 18. She has an absolute lifetime of knowledge which is invaluable."

Joan never married but loves children and is devoted to village life.

"I'm an auntie to hundreds and mother to none," said Joan, from Pickmere, where she served on the parish council for 40 years. "I've always worked with children."

Joan was a clerk to the parent teacher association at Wincham Primary School for 22 years, helped to organise the annual village carnival and inspired generations of youngsters as a volunteer at the youth club.

With drive and determination, she encouraged villagers in 1976 to raise £120,000 to build the community centre.

"We had dances, bingos, race nights and all sorts of things," she recalled. "It weren't only me, we had some really great people. Everyone mucked in."

Salford-born Joan only retired at 70 when her bosses couldn't get her insured!

"I worked at New Cheshire Salt Works for 55 years, six months and 21 days," said Joan. "I started as a packer and they made me supervisor at 19. Then in my late 30s it went computerised and I became a buyer. I used to buy all the packaging materials. We used to provide salt all over the world, in New Zealand and Spain. It was also used in chemotherapy, kidney dialysis and for making pills. It was a fantastic place.

"They couldn't keep me any longer because you cant' get insured over 70!"

Joan, who trained for four years as a contralto, loves singing and belonged to a folk group at St Wilfrid's Catholic Church in Northwich.

"We used to perform in prisons," she said. "Our favourite place was Sudbury, an open prison for more than 800 men. We also sang for young people at Appleton Thorn."

Joan celebrated her 90th birthday with family and friends.

"I've had a wonderful life," she said. "Good parents and a good family. I'm in a wheelchair now because my legs won't work. I've had two new hips and a knee but age is just a number.

"My body's a big worn out but my head's alright."