Former dressmaker Mary Christie celebrated her 102nd birthday in style today with friends and family joining the celebrations.
After her usual weekly appointment with the hairdresser, the oldest resident of Beamish Residential Home in West Pelton, was enjoying music including Glen Miller’s In The Mood surrounded by banners, balloons, cards, flowers and gifts and said: “I’ve no complaints!”
Mary, who received her special telegram from the Queen when she reached 100, was the centre of attention again two years on and, as she prepared to have her picture taken, she joked: “I won’t break the camera will I?”
She’s lived at the home since 2009 after moving there from her house nearby.
Born in Beamish two years before the start of the First World War, she’s lived around Pelton all her life.
She said: “I worked for 30 years; I’d go around dress-making - one job which lasted for 30 years.” She was also a member of the WI and a regular at St Paul’s Church which is next door to the home.
“I haven’t moved very far!” she said.
The home she chose also happens to have another special family connection.
A photograph hangs on the wall which features her brother being reunited with a resident of the home, Lydia Handley.
Mary’s brother Tom Turton had come up to West Pelton from his home in Essex to visit his sister and spent a week staying at Beamish Residential Home to save him having to cope with the stairs in the house. It was there he had a chance meeting with Lydia, a cousin he had not seen for 30 years, and the pair spent lots of time catching up on those past three decades.
Mary describes those at the home as “all friends”. Staff there baked her a birthday cake and manager Angela Shefford said: “She’s a lovely resident, very cheerful and she enjoys being here.”
Mary loves all kinds of music and also likes to spend time playing dominoes.
A widow, whose husband William, a plate layer for the Coal Board, died 36 years ago, she has a son Len, 71 this year, who visited yesterday, and 35-year-old grandson Scott whom she helped bring up after the death of his mother.
Len said his mother never really drank alcohol or smoked. Instead meal-time favourites are porridge and sweet coffee.
“I’m very well looked after,” she said.