100 Years’ Young

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When you think back to 100 years ago, there were some pretty memorable and life-changing events. The world had been at war for two years and the Battle of the Somme had taken many lives. It was also the year that ex-Prime Minister Harold Wilson and best-selling children’s author Roald Dahl were born.

For us here at Balhousie, 1916 was special because it was also the year that Elizabeth Bernard, a resident at our Rumbling Bridge Care Home, was born and, on 10th April, she will celebrate her 100th birthday. To mark Elizabeth’s centenary, we have taken a look back at her 100 years where the world has changed around her.

Elizabeth was born in the Fife town of Kelty to John and Elizabeth Bernard, and is the only surviving member of her three siblings, Robert, Helen and Alexander. She attended Kelty Primary School before going on to Cowdenbeath High School, where she also worked in the local store as a shop assistant.

Nursing career in Fife

Inspired by her father John, who was a local ambulance driver, Elizabeth went on to study to become a nurse. She began her training at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital before moving to Northampton where she studied Orthopaedics. She thrived in her role and moved to further her training in Oxford before returning back North of the border. She spent the remainder of her nursing career at Princess Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh, where she became a Matron. Her days as a nurse are some of her happiest memories and she can often be heard telling our Balhousie carers about “back in my day…!”

Living through the war

Elizabeth often shares fond memories of her siblings. Her younger brother Alec, who tragically died aged just 21, was killed in battle as an Air Gunner for the Royal Air Force during World War II in 1942. Her older brother, Robert, went off to University in Edinburgh, becoming a school teacher and her only sister Helen, who also worked in the factory where her mother worked, had two children, John and Elizabeth, who still regularly visit Elizabeth at Rumbling Bridge.

Despite living through World War II and losing her brother to the war, is it not something that Elizabeth remembers being a huge part of her early life. However, when you ask about her dog, Dessy, or how many cats she had growing up, there’s always a story to tell!

If you ask who her favourite celebrity is, Elizabeth is quick to reply “Roger Moore” and likes to keep a picture of him close by. She still enjoys reading the newspapers every morning and is a regular visitor to Rumbling Bridge’s mobile library. Partial to a murder mystery novel, Agatha Christie is Elizabeth’s favourite author.

A Royal fan

An avid fan of the Royal Family, Elizabeth shares great memories of enjoying the street parties for Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953 and is really looking forward to receiving her telegram to mark her special birthday. She also met Princess Margaret during her time as Matron at the Edinburgh hospital, and although she doesn’t remember much about the visit, when you ask Elizabeth what she was like the only reply you’ll get is “Oh yes, she had lovely skin!”

We wanted to know what Elizabeth’s secret to 100 healthy years. She claims it to be just simply living a happy life. That and eating soup every day for her lunch, although she’s yet to taste anything better than her mother’s.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!