A WOMAN who grew up next to Wearside comedian Bobby Thompson celebrated her 104th birthday with a party in the nursing home where she now lives.
Annie Cowell remembers the Little Waster from her time in Waggonway Terrace, Fatfield.
He was famously short of money and Annie often slipped him half a crown or five shillings.
Born in 1908 – also the year the Olympics were held in London and a month before Henry Ford produced his first Model T car – Annie, a former dancer, has put her longevity down to “hard work”.
She married Matthew Cowell, a miner, and the couple moved to the Canada area of Chester-le-Street.
They were then one of the first residents of the South Pelaw estate.
Annie worked in a munitions factory in Birtley during the Second World War, and her other jobs included working on a farm and in the Dainty Dinah toffee factory in Chester-le-Street.
She was still working as a cleaner until the age of 70, and she lived in her own home until 2009 when she moved into the St Mary’s Nursing Home in Church Chare, Chester-le-Street, where she enjoys regular games of bingo, dominoes and cards.
Annie has two sons, a brother and a sister, as well as grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
She celebrated her birthday on Friday with a surprise party at the home attended by family and friends.
Annie said: “I worked all my life. It kept me active. I never liked having nothing to do.
“I don’t know why everybody is making a fuss. I’ve never known anything like it. This is all a complete shock to me. At my time of life I don’t like too much fuss.”
In her younger years, Annie won numerous ballroom competitions at the old Empire in Chester-le-Street.