Five generations of a football loving family will lead around 30 guests at a special party at the stadium this month to celebrate great-great-grandmother Lilian Stewert’s 100th birthday.
Daughter Winifred, 78; granddaughter Karen, 46; great-grandson Paul, 30 and the latest arrival, 15-month-old Cooper, will be joined by family members from afar afield as Canada for the party.
And, instead of a conventional buffet, the Magpie-mad guests will sit down to a traditional Sunday lunch, prepared and cooked by the in-house Sodexo Prestige catering team, in an executive box overlooking the hallowed turf.
Sunderland-born Lilian’s decision to hold her milestone marking party at the home of rival Newcastle United Football Club, is one of which her NUFC season ticket holding family firmly approves.
“We’re Newcastle fans through and through and we have Sunday lunch at St James’ Park all the time, which is why we picked it for this special celebration,” said great-grandson Paul Trench, “but it’s not quite so black and white for Lilian, who has happy memories of both Newcastle and Sunderland.”
Born in Pallion, Sunderland, in 1915, Lilian moved to the Walkergate area of Newcastle when she married Bobby in 1938, returning to Sunderland for the duration of WW2.
“It’s been quite a life,” said Paul. “She saw her father, her husband, Bob and her brother, Bobby, go to war and, sadly, Bobby never returned, falling during the liberation of Holland towards the end of WW2.”
“Despite that sadness, however, she has had a really happy life,” said Paul. “From the 1950s until she retired, she worked at Newcastle’s Bainbridge department store, now John Lewis and she still likes to pop in from time to time.
“She’s fiercely independent and a true inspiration to the whole family – she’s marvellous and we all think the world of her.”
Samantha Doyle, area sales manager for Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events at the stadium, said: “The club holds such a firm place in people’s hearts that families often choose to celebrate milestone events here.
“However, it is rare that we are able to welcome five generations of one family and we plan to pull out all the stops to ensure Lilian and her guests have a wonderful day.”