Sheffield woman joined by five generations to celebrate 80th birthday

Five generations of the family from Walkley. Rita Barker, Lynne Nash, Rebecca Brelstaff, Charence Brelstaff ands Avayah Barker
Five generations of the family from Walkley. Rita Barker, Lynne Nash, Rebecca Brelstaff, Charence Brelstaff ands Avayah Barker

A great-great grandmother from Sheffield has been given her greatest birthday wish - to have a photographer capture a treasured moment of five generations of females in her family to look back on in years to come.

Rita Barker celebrated her 80th birthday on November 14, at her packed out Walkley home with a surprise party thrown by members of her ever-growing family.

The 80-year-old, who has five children, 17 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandaughter, says she was told to dress up and put some makeup on, but was in shock when she was greeted by so many members of her family there to wish her happy birthday. 

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She said: “I thought it was wonderful, I feel so blessed to have them all. As you can imagine you could hardly move! It was such a wonderful day, they are all very caring. Not everyone could make it as some had work commitments, but we’d have had to hire City Hall if they’d have all come!”

However, unbeknown to Rita, her youngest daughter Katy had organised a special birthday surprise which was sure to put a smile on her face.

Since the birth of her granddaughter Avayah - now the fifth generation of the family – Rita has been trying to get each female generation together for a photo, to give the two-year-old something to treasure in later life but, due to their busy schedules, this has not been possible.

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So in a bid to make the day extra-special a photographer was booked to make her dream come true.

Rita added: “I didn’t know what was happening, I thought they'd turned up to take me out to lunch. They’d all descended and were milling about. I had been asking them for a few years, I just thought they had forgotten. 

“It was such a lovely surprise to see the photographer. I think he was probably in shock to see us all there!”

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Rita also celebrated her 47th wedding anniversary with her husband Bill, 75, just two days earlier meaning the house is now overflowing with cards.

“It’s amazing, we’ve got so many cards that some have ended up on the floor,” she said. “We’ve even got a row of anniversary cards in the kitchen.”

And, despite living across Sheffield, the family each make time to see each other regularly. 

Rita said: “I see Avayah at least once a week, sometimes even twice a week. They all live in Sheffield, so more often than not the kettle is always on. If we needed anyone they’d be there in the drop of a hat. I love them all.”

Now, the great-great grandmother is looking forward to Christmas, even if it can be confusing having to buy for so many.

She added: “We normally just go to others for Christmas and have lunch at their homes, we take it in turns. Christmas present shopping is so confusing though! My husband and I keep saying we’ll cancel Christmas and whisk ourselves off somewhere.

“I never know what to buy, some of the great grandchildren are teenagers and others are small. They range from seven months all the way up to 38 years!”