One hundred reasons to live in the Broads
It has to be the best advert for Broadland being a healthy, stress-free place to live.
For Heron Lodge Nursing Home, in Wroxham, is about to celebrate a remarkable series of birthdays.
First up on Monday (February 28) is the 103rd birthday of Lily Barnes, who has lived her entire life within a few miles of the self-proclaimed capital of the Broads, at Hevingham and Blofield.
Then it is the turn of her friend Doris Harris, who will be 104 on March 29.
Doris was still living in her beloved bungalow in Sprowston until she decided to move into Heron Lodge in 2020 to escape the isolation of the coronavirus lockdown.
A month later, the Kingsley Healthcare home in Norwich Road will be putting up the balloons and banners again for the 101st birthday of Peggy Ibbett, a lifelong Norwich resident, on April 25.
Ahead of the landmark birthdays, their families yesterday (23rd) gathered for a special afternoon tea to celebrate an amazing three centuries of life.
It was a time to ponder the big question: what is the secret of living so long so well?
Lily’s son Everitt said: “After getting married at 16 to my father Billy, she worked hard all her life but, as they say, hard work never killed anyone.”
Her jobs ranged from the tough slog of sugar beet harvesting and cleaning boats at Brundall to becoming a cleaner and then nurse assistant at Thorpe St Andrew’s hospital, caring for the elderly.
Her son said: “In recent times, it is the excellent care she has received at Heron Lodge which has helped her reach her 103rd birthday.”
Yesterday’s party was the first time Doris had met her four-month-old great-grandson Finlay.
Her son Graham said it was remarkable that she had lived so long considering she was born in 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic.
He said: “Maybe her secret to long life is that she has never worried much about anything; she has always been very relaxed.”
Peggy’s son Peter said: “She has always eaten very, very healthily and remained active – she was walking until she was 92 with the Trefoil Guild.
“She has had a hard life, she lost her husband at the age of 44, but has always coped; she is a very peaceful person and has always been content with life.”
Heron Lodge manager Maebh McCormack said: “After these three birthdays, we will have a little break until the 101st birthday of Lily Pye in July.
“In my 12 years as a nurse I have never encountered a home with so many residents living happily to such a grand old age. Many of our other residents have reached their mid and late 90s.
“We are a home where most of our residents have lived their life in the local area.”
Read more about Heron Lodge nursing home
Author: Stephen Pullinger