One hundred 100-year-olds come together for special event

The Elderberries Project organised a special dinner and entertainment for 100 100-year-olds from the North East

Together they have more than 10,000 years of life experience under their belts, including two world wars and plenty of pearls of wisdom.

And on Wednesday these centenarians were brought together for a special celebration to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The Elderberries Project at The Alnwick Garden Trust in Northumberland invited one hundred 100-year-olds to the launch of their 100 Club, treating them to a two-course meal and an afternoon of entertainment.

Reemer Bailey, project manager for Elderberries said the idea came about because of the centenary of the First World War.

“I wanted to do something with people who have seen two world wars but looking forward to a happy and healthy quality of life,” she said.

“So we are launching the 100 Club, the idea being we sell the message everyone should have the right to look forward to living a happy and healthy full-filled life, most importantly being visible. Our society is often guilty of putting elderly people away.

“These people here have amazing stories and are full of wisdom, I think we are missing all of that in a ‘chuck-away’ kind of mentality.

“Elderberries is trying to give recognition to our senior citizens, our most senior citizens, and give them the VIP treatment,” she added.

Coming from all over the North East, two of the guests even reached the impressive age of 107.

Danny White, a former circulation manager for the Journal, said he was delighted to be invited and even shared his secret to a long and healthy life.

“I would say my secret is not smoking, very little alcohol, plenty of activity, that’s my secret, “said 107-year-old Danny, who lives at St Joseph’s Home in Newcastle.

He was joined at his table by fellow resident 100-year-old Hannah Gofton, who said everything in moderation was key.

“We were not spoilt,” said Hannah, who has six great-grandchildren.

“In my time no one was well off enough to be spoilt. You just need a normal family life if you ask me for a long life,” added Hannah, who served in the Army for four years.

Also enjoying the dinner was 100-year-old Alvinza Riddoch, who spent her working life as a missionary in China, Singapore and Taiwan. However, she said the one thing she wished she had time to do was a tour of Europe.

“It’s hard to believe when I went to school in the 1920s if you started at five the bus was free but I waited until I was six and went with my sister and I had to pay a penny,” she said.

The guests were entertained after their meal by the choir from Holley Park Academy in Sunderland.

The Elderberries programme works to address loneliness, isolation and hardship amongst older people living in Northumberland.

It is supported by the Stewart Halbert Foundation and and the Duchess of Northumberland and the space at Alnwick Gardens is given for free by John Adamson at Ramside Hall Estates.

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