Popular great-grandmother celebrates 100th birthday at Sunderland care home

A popular businesswoman has celebrated her 100th birthday and was delighted to receive a card from the Queen.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 4:55 am

Centenarian Gladys Parker marked the big day with two members of her family at Ashbourne Lodge Care Centre in The Cedars, Sunderland

With a larger gathering planned for when the lockdown measures allow, Gladys was treated to a garden party and received a wave of cards and even a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from old friends in Spain.

Her family say a highlight was receiving a 100th birthday card from Queen Elizabeth II, who Gladys has always admired.

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Gladys Parker pictured with husband John in Bermuda in 1984.
Gladys Parker pictured with husband John in Bermuda in 1984.

Born in Caernafron in North Wales in 1921, Gladys went to work in the mills in West Yorkshire, as well a being in the Women's Land Army, before moving to South Shields with her family.

Age 19, she married John Parker on May 21, 1941, at the town’s Registry Office before John, who was in the army, was dispatched to North Africa, Italy and Israel.

Just four months later, the home where Gladys had been living before her marriage was demolished after bombing raids targeted Tyneside.

After the war, John began working in the fish trade and in 1947 he opened a shop, Parker’s, in the old Jacky White’s Market.

Gladys pictured ahead of a wedding she was attending in 2005.

The inseparable couple, who were married for 54 years, worked there together for many years and Gladys’ eldest son Douglas still runs the same fish shop in the market.

In 1968, John and Gladys opened a popular fish restaurant and takeaway under the same name in Crowtree Road and moved to Sunderland.

Daughter Linda Rowtree said: “They gave up that business when the lease came to an end and The Bridges shopping centre was redeveloped again. Both John and Gladys were extremely hard workers and she only retired in her mid-seventies.

"Gladys is very sociable and loved the daily contact with customers. She and John were well known in Sunderland in the business community and with charities, particularly Variety Club.”

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The pair went to all of the Sunderland AFC home games together – taking one of the first private boxes at the ground.

Her family say Gladys loves to travel and, with John and friends, visited many destinations in the Mediterranean and America and even visited New York to see Muhammad Ali fight at Madison Square Garden – although Gladys preferred the sights and excitement of the Big Apple over the boxing.

Sadly in December 1995, John died which was a huge blow.

Gladys has six children – Penny, Gloria, Douglas, Linda, Barbara and Philip – 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

A fan of cards, Gladys was still playing Kaluki, a complicated form of Rummy, up to the start of the pandemic when she was 98 years old.

On behalf of her family, Linda added: “During her 100 years, Gladys has suffered hardship, fear and loss but like many of her generation she just soldiered on.

"In later life, she has enjoyed good health, good friends and liked best to be with her family. As she says, she has had a good life and has been very lucky.

"Hopefully, she has many more good years and many more card games to come.”

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