105th birthday celebration for former Sunderland sequence dancer

A former sequence dancer from Sunderland who was born during World War One has turned 105

Monday, 21st December 2020, 4:31 pm
Updated Monday, 21st December 2020, 4:32 pm
Emma Patterson with her 105th birthday card from The Queen. Picture by Frank Reid

Emma Patterson had a surprise visit from Santa to celebrate her 105th birthday on Monday, December 21 after traditional birthday celebrations at Nidd Hall in Harrogate were cancelled due to Covid-19.

She was born in Pallion in 1915 and says the key to living to 105 is “not sitting in your chair.”

Emma has lived in and around Sunderland all her life and left school at 14 before finding work at Kemps grocery shop and working until she had her only child Doreen.

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Santa Clause (Bob Hansford) delivers a 105th birthday card to Emma Patterson . Picture by Frank Reid

Doreen, 74 said: “Mum and dad met on the river in Castletown, groups of them used to swim across the river in the week but on Saturday and Sundays they all dressed up and got the ferry across.

"One day dad approached mum on the bank of the river and said ‘you’re coming home with me’ and they were married for more than 60 years.”

Emma’s husband Bobby worked in the pits until he broke his back and spent six months in hospital before Emma cared for him at home.

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Emma Patterson turned 105 on Monday, December 21.

She found a job scrubbing floors to help support her family while Bobby was recovering.

Emma sequence danced all her life and toured around community centres to dance for fun with best friend Sadie.

Doreen said: “Dad would dance too but only at parties.”

The couple spent much of their retirement in a caravan in Eastgate which they bought for £100 and kept for 40 years.

Emma and Bobby were married in August 1937.

Doreen said: “They would stay in the caravan Thursday to Monday when mum would go dancing on Monday nights, then baked on a Tuesday, had Wednesday’s off and then back to the caravan on Thursday.”

Bobby passed away in 2002 after suffering from several stokes but not before Emma cared for her husband ‘in sickness and in health’ until it was physically no longer possible.

Emma now spends her days living in her flat where she enjoys reading and watching football, snooker and racing.

Doreen said: “My mum is so mobile and active, she doesn’t stop – no wonder she has lived to see 105!

Dancing with best friend Sadie who had made both their fancy dresses.

"She’s such a loving woman and we are all looking forward to seeing each other over the Christmas period where we can celebrate her birthday.”

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Emma and Bobby celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.