Much-loved shopkeeper and teacher Carole Jackson dies aged 72

Carole Jackson
Carole Jackson

A teacher and businesswoman who, with her family, ran a series of successful shops in Scarborough town centre has died at the age of 72.

Carole Muriel Marjo-Riitta Jackson’s varied career saw her work at a number of local schools, open an award-winning retro games shop and even form a close friendship with a pop star from Finland.

She and husband Barry were probably best known for running the Upstairs Downstairs and Retro 36 shops, both in St Nicholas Street.

Born in Scarborough in May 1946, she grew up in Cromwell Terrace, where her parents ran a boarding house.

She attended St Martin’s Primary School and Scarborough Convent School, before going to work in Finland as an au-pair, forming a lifelong friendship with her host family’s daughter, who went on to become a famous Finnish pop star.

After returning to the UK, and going to Alsager Teacher Training College, her first job was at a primary school in Walsall, where she met her future husband Barry.

They moved to Scarborough in 1970 and married that year at Holy Trinity Church.

Carole taught at East Ayton Primary School, before she and Barry opened Upstairs Downstairs in April 1974, selling modern gifts and basketware with an Italian coffee lounge upstairs.

Customers used to queue outside the shop, eager to sample the menu, especially after a mention from famous chef Egon Ronay who commented on the “small portions, high quality”.

Two years later, the couple opened a gift shop called Expansion and in 1977 they had twin boys, John and Paul.

In 1980, the family opened the first dedicated Athena shop, Eaton Place, on St Nicholas Street.

By the mid-1980s, Carole was a supply teacher at Childhaven Nursery School and joint founder of Anglolang International School.

As her boys went through school, she was part of the Parent Teacher Association at St Martin’s School and a parent governor at Scarborough College.

During the 1990s, she was a teacher at Springhead School, but many in the Scarborough community will know Carole from Retro 36, the shop which specialised in nostalgic games, toys and film collectables.

She worked alongside son John, and the shop in St Nicholas Street won many awards, most notably three prestigious national retail awards in a row: Best Retailer Initiative in 2014, Best Independent Retailer in 2015 and Best Retail Window Display in 2016, with the awards ceremony held in London.

Much-loved by customers, she had a lovely singing voice and a passion for English literature. She was also a Trustee of St Martin’s Lodge residential home.

Her only brother Derek has lived in Canada since emigrating more than half-a-century ago.

In 2016, Carole underwent emergency surgery for ovarian cancer and other serious complications and was given only a 5% chance of survival.

She was the first patient at Scarborough Hospital to have that type of extensive surgery performed but she made a good recovery.

With great care from her husband, and from the NHS, she lived another two years, spending her final days, peacefully, with her family around her, at Saint Catherine’s Hospice.

She died on December 30 and a funeral service will be held at St Martin-on-the-Hill Church, South Cliff, at 1pm on Tuesday January 15. Donations in lieu of flowers are invited for Saint Catherine’s Hospice