Older Person's day: Mary's story

October 1 marks International Day of Older Persons and to celebrate, we met with two of our oldest tenants, Ethel and Mary, to highlight their huge achievements and find out a bit more about them.

International Day of Older Persons was created by the United Nations to celebrate older people, the contribution they’ve made to society and to promote health, prevention, and treatment of illnesses.

Its importance has increased as people are now living longer, and we have a greater aging population.

Mary’s story

Mary is 101 years old and has been a tenant since 1981 (over 40 years).

We asked her some questions, check out her answers below.

What’s your secret to a long and successful life?

It’s simple. Eat well, sleep well and I have never taken tablets for anything. I can’t remember the last time I visited my doctor. He comes out to give me my annual vaccination jabs but that’s about it.

What’s a big historic event you’ve seen or been a part of?

I must mention the war. I lived in Sheffield at the time and remember seeing the bombs being dropped, it was astonishing really. When I think about it, I can still feel myself stood there.

I was an ambulance driver all through the blitz from the age of 17. I did my bit, as we all did.

What’s your favourite hobby, pastime, or thing to do?

It used to be dancing, Harold (my husband) and I loved to go. When we moved to Scunthorpe it was Mill Road Club in Ashby, sometimes three times a week.

I loved holidays with Harold. He was lovely, he’d always surprise me with trips, leaving a brochure on the table for me to find and get excited. My favourite place was Malta, I even went alone after Harold passed away.

I’m a big sports fan too, if you come round to visit you can expect a nice cup of tea, a biscuit and the sports channel on. I used to go to football games a lot and had a season ticket, often taking the children too.

Mary and husband, Harold, dancing

What’s it been like in your community through the years?

After meeting my husband Harold we moved down south but I always missed being up north, so when a transfer came up in Scunthorpe we took it. I find there’s better people, nicer communities, and a better way of life.

I remember Harold and I walking past this bungalow when it was being built and we said how much we’d love to live here. I called up the council at the time and we were so lucky that everything fell into place. We moved in and I’ve stayed ever since.

It’s a lovely community and I have great neighbours; Georgie and John, who look out for me, mowing my lawn, chatting away and checking in from time to time.

As I’ve got older, renting an Ongo home has given me so much security. I’m too old now to carry out work, so being able to call and get my repairs done takes the worry away and anyone I speak to is always so accommodating.

What’s your proudest achievement in life?

My family are definitely my proudest achievement, they always look out for me. My daughter takes me out to do my shopping and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren keep me young. They held a celebration for me when I turned 100 and it was delightful to get together.

A family trip to Normanby Hall, Scunthorpe in 1968

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m very lucky, I’ve had a wonderful, long life and I always tell my loved ones not to mourn me when I’m no longer here, to celebrate the time we shared and memories we made.

Mary’s 100th birthday celebration