Alice was born on 25th September 1918. For her 100th birthday, as well as a telegram from the Queen, she received a new record player for her large collection of Country & Western LPs. Up to three years ago, Alice was used to going out everywhere, to see friends or go shopping in Erdington on the train. As that became too difficult, she started attending the ElderLink lunch club in Hodge Hill. Each Tuesday ElderLink Visitor, Sue, picks her up in the car and takes her to the club where she has a good meal and meets friends.
‘I was born in Lozells and had 4 brothers – two older, two younger. They were hard times. My husband was one of 14 children – his mother had 12 and then twins. There was sadness – she lost 4 of them, one only lived a short time, then another died on his christening day, another was drowned. I don’t know how they managed, really, because everything was manual, there were no labour-saving things at all. Women were almost always in the house, really. Feeding, preparing the meals.
I loved everything about school, expecially ringing the bell in the school yard to call everyone in – because I was a school captain. I met my husband coming out of the Ritz picture house in Bordesley Green – it’s an Aldi supermarket now. I was 15 and we were going together by the time I was 16.
I was 21 in the September as the war broke out. I married in December and my husband went into the forces in May. He was in England for 12 months and then 4 and a half years abroad. In Syria, then Iraq and he finished up where there was a big battle, in Monte Cassino in Italy.
I wanted to go in the navy, but my firm – W&T Avery – was exempt because they made weighing machines. I worked there from age 14 to 60. I never had another job.
Once my husband and I won Mr & Mrs at Pontins in Blackpool. One of the questions was, ‘If your wife had to choose to buy salmon or tuna, which would she buy?’ I put tuna, and he put salmon, so afterwards I asked him, ‘Why on earth did you put salmon?’ and he said, ‘Oh, I didn’t want them to think that we bought the cheapest.’ It was really funny! We were married 53 and a half years.
I don’t feel any different being 100, but you get really fed up, being stuck in the house. The only time I get out of the door is to come to the club. I couldn’t go for 6 weeks recently because of the pain in my neck and shoulders, so Sue came to visit me here at home.’
ElderLink guests are aged from 60 to 103, each with their own history to tell. For ElderLink staff and volunteers it is a privilege to share in the later years of their lives. ElderLink Manager, Rachel said, ‘Our elderly folk love to share with us – they don’t often have the chance. Many are shut-in, many with the beginnings of dementia. Inevitably in this job we lose friends when they die, and that is hard, but I love to tell them and their families about our hope in the Lord Jesus.’
Hear from more ElderLink guests in our new movie…