North East Connected

The secret to a long life? A daily bacon butty, according to 104 year old Mary!

Walker resident Mary Charlton has celebrated reaching a grand old age with a party hosted by staff and neighbours at her YHN sheltered housing community at Welbeck Green.


Mary, who was born before World War I and in the same year as two American Presidents (Richard Nixon and Gerald R Ford), Rosa Parks and actors Sid James and Peter Cushing, has lived independently at Welbeck Green for 26 years. Staff and residents previously threw a big party for her 100th birthday in 2013, and they were keen to celebrate again this year.

YHN’s sheltered housing officer, Maureen Ball, decided on an “old and new” theme for the party, so the buffet was presented on a table cloth that is also over 100 years old, and guests had lots of modern props to help them get into the party spirit.

Maureen received help from other residents of Welbeck Green, including Blanche Anderson and Maureen Appleby who spent all morning preparing a buffet, and she also put her own crafty skills to good use, creating lovely decorations for the tables.

The party was attended by many neighbours and carers as well as Mary’s niece, Margaret Case, and her husband, John. Margaret and John shared anecdotes about Mary’s past, including her domestic work at hotels in Scarborough and London – Mary travelled to London by boat from the Tyne for £1 each way!

Margaret, who visits Mary every week, also explained that her memory is still incredibly sharp despite her age, and this proves very useful when Margaret and John help with her Christmas cards.  Margaret said: “Her memory is amazing, she knows all of her neighbours’ door numbers of the top of her head and she remembers their birthdays too.  It makes it really easy for us when John acts as postman for her!”

Mary still visits her hairdresser once a week with her friend Dot and likes to be dressed nicely every day – she often already has all of her jewellery on when her carer arrives in the morning.  And her thoughts on the secret to a long life are partly what you might expect and partly what you probably wouldn’t – she says: “I’ve never been a smoker or a drinker and I think that’s helped me to live to a good age. I also make myself a bacon sandwich every morning and I think that’s the biggest secret!”

Maureen Ball presented Mary with a bouquet of flowers and a card on behalf of YHN, she said: “Mary’s fantastic, she still lives quite independently and she even brushes the snow away from the front of her bungalow in the winter – you really wouldn’t believe she was 104 if you met her!

“There’s a lovely sense of community spirit at Welbeck Green, with everyone enjoying getting together for a celebration and lots of people baking and making things for special occasions like this.

“Mary really enjoys the parties so it was great to have one in her honour and to see her surrounded by her friends and family – it’s days like these that make my job so special and I’m thrilled to have been able to make this such a special day for Mary too.”

Mary’s family provided a birthday cake and everyone enjoyed tucking into a fantastic buffet. There was also a champagne toast and a chorus of “Happy Birthday”, followed by more playing and posing with props.

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