CHIP off the old block Nora Cadas celebrated her 100th birthday in style on New Year’s Day.
The centenarian, who is the only surviving sibling out of 18, was the centre of attention during her party at The Lodge Residential Care Home, in Farnham Road, South Shields.
Youngest daughter, Linda Spence, 63, of Whitburn, said: “Mum’s mind is still going strong, but unfortunately her legs have given up on her and she’s had a few falls.
“We decided to hold her a surprise party, because she loves to be made a fuss of.
“Mam always enjoyed playing the piano, and she still has a little tinkle now and then, so we were hoping she’d play a tune at her party.”
Born in Deptford, Sunderland, in 1915, young Nora spent her days working in her parents’ general dealers store.
A member of St Mary’s Church, and later St Joseph’s in Pallion, Nora also had the job of being a cleaner for the priest.
Mrs Spence said: “All of the siblings worked in the family store, but mum also cleaned for the priest. For a Catholic family this was a great honour and quite a privilege.”
In her early 20s, Nora married Richard Freeman, who died in 1959. Together they raised children Brenda, 79, Martin, 67 and Linda.
A few years later, in 1962, she married Jimmy Staines. They spent 18 happy years together before he too died.
However, love found Nora again when she tied the knot with Alf Cadas.
Mrs Spence said: “Alf was an old school friend, and they had 10 years of happiness before he died.
“Every year they’d go off to Benidorm for three months, it was a lovely companionship.
“Sadly, mum’s been a widow now for 29 years.”
In more recent years, the gran-of-seven joined the over 60s clubs at St Gabriel’s Church Hall in Kayll Road, Sunderland, and Wilfred Street Day Care Centre in Boldon Colliery – where she’d play the piano.
Eight years ago she moved from Pallion into the house next door to her youngest daughter in Fern Avenue, Whitburn.
This was ideal for Noah, as granddaughter Jill Dewing, 37, also lived a few doors down, while grandson Dale Spence, 31, lived opposite, with their families.
Mrs Spence said: “We’re a very close family, so it was lovely to have mum nearby.
“She only moved into the care home a few months ago, but she had previously been going there for respite on and off for the last few years.”
The family are unsure to the secret behind Nora’s longevity – but they think it might be something to do with vinegar and chips.
Mrs Spence added: “Mum loves chips covered in vinegar, we always say that the vinegar has pickled her, it keeps her well preserved.”