A Chorley community stalwart is set to appear in court over accusations of racially aggravated harassment.
Josie Hampson, who has been summonsed under her Christian name of Sylvia, has run Hampson’s Toymaster in Market Street with her family for more than 60 years.
The former school teacher and school governor is set to face two allegations at Preston Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, including racially aggravated harassment/alarm or distress by words and using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
The alleged incident involved a family of travellers who want to live on green belt land neighbouring Mrs Hampson’s home in Heath Charnock.
However, the grandmother said she’s been ‘shocked’ and ‘sickened’ by the accusations and has vowed to clear her name.
She told the Guardian: “I am not a racist, I never have been a racist, and certainly never will be.
“I am a Christian and the words I have been accused of saying would never have even entered my head.
“I am 77 years old and face going to court and standing trial, but I am determined to clear my name. I am struggling to cope and I am feeling unwell with the worry.
“I just can’t imagine how it has come to this.”
The pensioner, who was given a Chorley Smile Award by the council to recognise her services to the town, was interviewed by police in April.
She added: “I’ve had to give a statement, had my fingerprints taken and my DNA.
“I refused to have a solicitor because I told them that I had done nothing wrong, but now I’ve had to employ a criminal solicitor which is going to cost more than £1,000.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I will have to pluck up the courage to stand trial as I am completely innocent.”
The Linfoot family, who have been living in an encampment on Hut Lane, were this week given a two-year stay of execution by Chorley Council to allow a full traveller report to be undertaken in the town.