FORMER Bournemouth businesswoman and owner of Westfield Cattery, June Elizabeth Mary Swift, has died at the age of 86.

Born in 1930, Mary was the only daughter of Albert and Lilly Leggett. Her family had always been in business and at the age of 18 her parents bought her a shop in Charminster Road, Bournemouth.

"She was a woman before her time and was one of the first females in Bournemouth to own a car," said her daughter Anne Millward.

In the 1960s June bought the Central Cafe which was a busy stopping place next to Bournemouth Railway Station where she met her husband Wilfred who was a regular customer.

When their daughter Anne was born they bought the Wishing Well tea rooms in Landford which was very popular with tourists.

Then when the family moved back to Bournemouth and lived at Fitzharris Avenue, Charminster, to look after June's mother, she bought a sweet shop near the Richmond Arms. The shop was busy with customers buying boxes of chocolates and sweets by the pound.

June was also a graphologist and featured in the Advertiser for analysing the written confession of a murderer.

In 1986 the family moved to Westfield on Throop Road and June seeing a new opportunity opened a boarding cattery there which was a great success.

June was a great animal lover and was often seen around Holdenhurst with her whippet Tiger.

Sadly Wilfred died in 2013 and June continued running the cattery, increasingly relying on the staff.

"In the last few years she became more physically frail but she still had the mind of a youngster. She spent time on the phone to her stockbrokers who often remarked that she had insider's knowledge of the share market," said Anne.

June made the hard decision after a period in hospital to move to a nursing home. Although she rarely left her room, she enjoyed talking on the phone to her family and chatting to the staff who liked coming to her room to get the gossip.

"June didn't want to become one of those 'grey haired old ladies in a wheelchair'. She was always a strong minded businesswoman who refused to retire. Her resilience and strength of character will never be forgotten and she will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her," said Anne.

June died on March 3 and her funeral was held at St Alban's Church, Charminster, on March 9. Donations were given to the Bournemouth branch of Cats Protection and the Stroke Association.

She is survived by her daughter Anne who still runs Westfield Boarding Cattery and grandsons Samson and Joseph.