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Brimpton resident Kathleen waves goodbye following hurtful comment

A PENSIONER who made national headlines with her novel way of beating the coronavirus blues is quitting - following a motorist's "hurtful" tirade.

It was last June when the Newbury Weekly News broke the story of how 82-year-old Kathleen Watson had taken to sitting by the roadside giving free smiles and a friendly wave to all passers-by.

It all began by chance.

Kathleen Watson waving to drivers
Kathleen Watson waving to drivers

Mrs Watson, who lives in Crookham Common Road, Brimpton, said she was delighted when two cyclists waved to her as she took her daily exercise.

So next time a car passed, she passed the gesture on.

Then, through rain, hail and shine, the grandmother-of-two became a local legend and national television beamed her image into living rooms as they followed up on our good news story.

Kathleen Watson
Kathleen Watson

Not even a heart attack could not stop her.

Unable to drive for months, she would walk the three-mile round trip from her home to her spot at the junction of Crookham Common Road and Thornford Road.

But now Mrs Watson is preparing to hang up her 'Keep Smiling' sign following an unpleasant altercation with a passing motorist.

She said: "I heard a screech of tyres round the corner and this man came over to me and said I'd nearly caused an accident. He was taking pictures of me and was really rude.

Kathleen Watson
Kathleen Watson

"The police know I'm here and they always smile and wave. It really upset me."

Mrs Watson, whose daughter Suzanne Rogers is secretary at Spurcroft Primary School in Thatcham, added: “I’ve been on my own with no one to talk to at times and this doesn’t cost anything.

"I've come to look on this as my 'job' - I really do love all the people who smile and wave. I've laughed so much. But now perhaps it's time to stop if I'm upsetting people.

A driver says hello
A driver says hello

"I want your readers to know how much joy they've given me and I do still care. I'll be here, if the weather isn't too bad, until the end of the month. Then I'll hang up my sign.

"Hopefully, we're over the worst by now. I hope things get better. Thank you to everyone who smiled back and waved - I love you all."

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