100th birthday landmark for great-great-grandma Gwendoline

Gwen Gilmore celebrates her 100th birthday with family.
Gwen Gilmore celebrates her 100th birthday with family.

Gwendoline Gilmore has hit her century.

The great-great-gran celebrated her 100th birthday with a party for family and friends at Stockton Lodge Care Home in Seaham, where she has lived for just over a year.

She is a lovely person, she really is. Everybody loves her

Ian Gilmore

Born and bred in Seaham, she started work at Doggarts department store in Seaham Harbour.

“She had an aunt who worked there, who probably helped her get the job,” said son Ian.

“Her aunt lived in Houghton and used to walk to Seaham to work every day.”

Gwendoline, who loved ballroom dancing and visiting Sunderland Empire, married Tom Gilmore at the start of the Second World War and gave up work for a time to raise children Malcolm, now 75, Valerie, 74, and 73-year-old Ian.

Returning to work when the children were older, she worked as a part-time nurse at Cherry Knowle Hospital and Seaham Hall in the days when it was still being used as a tuberculosis and cardiothoracic hospital.

She later spent time at Janet Frazer in Sunderland and, after retirement, worked as a volunteer in the canteen at Seaham Magistrates’ Office, and in the Barnados Charity Shop in Seaham Harbour.

Tom passed away when Gwendoline was just 63, after which she enjoyed many long (up to three months) annual holidays in Spain.

She remained in her own home until last summer, when her care requirements meant a move to Stockton Lodge.

“She has been a permanent resident there since last August,” said Ian.

“She lived in her own home until she was 98.”

Gwendoline, who has eight grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, loves her new home and is a popular resident with the staff.

“She is very, very happy,” said Ian.

“She is a lovely person, she really is. Everybody loves her.

“She always has a winning smile on her face and the nurses at the care home love her.”

Gwendoline is largely bed-bound now, but while she may not be as able as she used to be physically, is still mentally as sharp as ever.

“She always says ‘I don’t like to complain’ and she never does, she just gets on with things,” said Ian.

“She knows what is going on and is very happy in Stockton Lodge, always praising the staff and telling us she is well looked after.”