A FIT and sprightly 100-year-old celebrated reaching her centenary in style.
The horror of the First World War was just a year away when East Rainton woman Gertie Bowden was born in 1913.
A day girl for a Houghton family as a teenager, Gertie worked at Greenwell Ford, Ramside Hall and St Mary’s College.
She married William Albert in 1933, after the couple met two years earlier. He died 30 years ago.
The couple had six sons: Brian, Trevor, Albert, Sidney, Geoffrey and Ian.
Despite her age, Gertie is still very active, regularly walking to Houghton from her home which she has lived in since 1942.
She also attends the Hope (Houghton Older People’s Enterprise) meeting on a Thursday, Hetton Luncheon Club on a Friday and visits the Bethany Christian Centre each Tuesday.
She has ventured far and wide during her life, taking in much of Europe, and even travelled to Canada by herself aged 84.
Still a keen baker, and a dab hand at serving up Sunday lunches, Gertie is also kept busy with visits from her 17 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.
Staff and visitors at the Bethany, which is in Hetton Road, Houghton, held a garden party in honour of Gertie, which several members of her family attended.
Sidney, 71, who lives in Houghton, said: “My mam is brilliant for her age. Not only does she go to three luncheon clubs each and every week, she also manages to walk down to Houghton to do her shopping two or three times a week as well.
“On top of that, she doesn’t take one tablet. She is on no medication at all.”
Gertie’s granddaughter Gillian said: “She is a wonderful grandma. I visit her every weekend, and she is kind and caring. We all love her so much.”
Gillian added: “She is the first to help in a family crisis. Lord knows we’ve had plenty of them. She has held the family together and puts us all to shame with her endless energy, get-up and go.”