Grandmother has first modelling photoshoot at age of 81

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AN ENTREPRENEURIAL grandmother is celebrating showcasing her scarf business in her first modelling photo shoot – aged 81.

Sprightly Avril Parsons posed for photographs in a range of luxurious silk scarves to launch a new book for her firm – which she set up at the ripe age of 79.

Ms Parsons, a business partner in JAK Silks which produce the scarves, said she was “nervous” for her first time in the spotlight – but is “delighted” with how the photographs came out.

The business decided to create a book showing different ways to tie a scarf and the grandmother-of-five stepped up to the plate to star in the shoot.

Ms Parsons said: “It was absolutely wonderful. It was a bit of fun but I was a bit nervous.

“We took the photographs in the garden, so they included a bit of nature.

“I didn’t mind one little bit and the book is a great success – it’s doing really well and I am delighted.”

Ms Parsons, from Snittersby, Lincolnshire, has had a varied career, but never expected it to include modelling assignments.

She said: “We meet a lot of women at our talks and scarf-tying demonstrations.

“Most of them tell us they only know one or two ways to tie a scarf.

“When we show them new ways, they can’t remember afterwards, so that’s why we produced our book.

“We wanted to include a cross-section of women of all ages in our book.

“When my business partner asked who would represent octogenarians she looked directly at me – no-one else qualified.

“The book includes 12 ways to wear your scarf and I was one of about four or five models in the book.”

Ms Parsons believes it is never too late to try new things in life and “as long as you have your health, you can do anything”.

She said: “I was a bit nervous about appearing in the book, but I think it’s important for women of my age to remain active and visible and to rise to new challenges.

“I play a lot of bridge, love going on holidays and I am hoping to set up a table tennis club for the elderly in my area.

“It is never too late to start a business and as long as you have your health, anyone can do it.”

Ms Parsons, who has a degree in business administration which she achieved in her 50s, launched JAK Silks when she was 79, after 23 years of retirement.

She is one of three business partners; alongside Joy Clews and Karen Richardson.

She said: “The business has really took off this year, but it took about a year for it to get going.

“We kept going and tried hard, but it’s really working and we already have lots booked for next year.”

The inspiration for the business came when Joy gave Avril a scarf after a trip to India.

Ms Parsons said: “So many people admired the scarf, which we couldn’t find in the UK, and this gave us the kernel of an idea.

“Could we start a business selling high quality silk scarves at affordable prices?

“We went to India where we did in fact find some suppliers of the very scarves we had dreamed of – and better.

“This convinced us we should launch our business.”

Ms Parsons has never been afraid of new challenges.

Widowed at the age of 29, Ms Parsons had to provide for her two young children.

Alongside a full-time job as a personal assistant she studied part-time for more than five years at Leeds University.

And after the success of this book, plans are already in motion for another one.

Ms Parsons said: “We’re talking about doing another book next year, aimed at men. It’s becoming more fashionable for men to wear scarves,so we think it will be great.”

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