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Technology connects great-grandmother with her family on her 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 16:00 17 July 2020

Jean Wood said the secret to her longevity was

Jean Wood said the secret to her longevity was "keeping busy" Picture: CORNWALLIS COURT

CORNWALLIS COURT

A great-grandmother who was once a champion fencer has celebrated her 100th birthday with video calls from family around the world.

Jean Wood with her 100th birthday card from the Queen Picture: CORNWALLIS COURTJean Wood with her 100th birthday card from the Queen Picture: CORNWALLIS COURT

Jean Wood, a resident of Cornwallis Court care home in Bury St Edmunds, had been disappointed when the coronavirus pandemic put paid to her hopes of seeing her family on her milestone birthday.

But Jean was surprised and delighted when family and friends ‘dropped in’ to say happy birthday via video calls from Australia, the USA, Isle of Mann and Canada, organised by the kind-hearted staff at the home.

She was overjoyed to be able to chat with her grandchildren and great grandchildren and even got a call from her 94-year-old bridesmaid in Seattle.

Jean, who has lived at the home since 2012, told carers: “Isn’t modern technology wonderful! To be able to see everyone all over the world is just marvellous!”

Jean Wood was delighted to receive video calls from family and friends all over the world on her 100th birthday Picture: CORNWALLIS COURTJean Wood was delighted to receive video calls from family and friends all over the world on her 100th birthday Picture: CORNWALLIS COURT

Her family who live nearer Cornwallis Court were also able to visit her in person this week in the home’s new Covid-secure visitor pod.

She received lots of beautiful flowers and an official birthday card from Her Majesty the Queen and also has a party at the home to look forward to next Saturday with her fellow residents and staff.

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When asked about the secret to her long and happy life, she said: “Goodness knows! I guess it is due to me keeping busy. There were always places to go and people to see! I like to be sociable.”

Jean was born in Wanstead, London, on July 14, 1920 and as a young woman she was a champion fencer.

She was even selected to represent England in the 1940 Olympic Games, though unfortunately they were cancelled due to the start of World War Two.

In those days she worked in a wholesale shop next to St Paul’s Cathedral, earning just £1.50 a week. She recalls: “I had to commute to work, so I could only afford 10p a day for my lunch.”

She married in 1941 and had three sons. After the war, Jean’s husband was sent to Cambridge, where the couple lived for seven years, before settling in Letchworth.

She moved to Bury St Edmunds at the age of 92 to live at Cornwallis Court.

Jean, who has eight grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, is known for adventurous spirit. Last year she celebrated her 99th birthday by enjoying a ride on a Harley Davidson.

Asked how she has coped during the pandemic, she said: “It’s been hard. I’ve kept busy knitting and, of course, I have managed to keep in touch with my family through Zoom calls. It is so marvellous, and I really couldn’t have done it without the help of the staff at Cornwallis Court.”

Denise O’Brien, home manager at RMBI Care Co. Home Cornwallis Court, said: “It was an honour to celebrate Jean’s 100th birthday at our home and it was fantastic that she was able to connect with so many of her family. She is a wonderful lady who is much loved at our home.”


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