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104 – and still young enough to party all day

S05001H13 Ethel Melloy celebrates her 104th birthday with, left to right, granddaughter Chris McCarthy, daughter Sheila Philp and friend and neighbour of 18 years, Bill Powell

S05001H13 Ethel Melloy celebrates her 104th birthday with, left to right, granddaughter Chris McCarthy, daughter Sheila Philp and friend and neighbour of 18 years, Bill Powell

HAVING decided she was “still young enough” for an all-day party, 104-year-old Ethel Melloy was treated to celebrations galore on Thursay.

A resident of Downsway, Southwick, for 25 years, Ethel moved down the road to Romans Care Home in September.

“She always said to me, as long as 15 years ago, I am going to end up in Romans you know,” said her daughter, Sheila Philp.

“She has been popping in and out for the last 10 years for respite, but as from September, by mutual agreement, she decided she would stay in.”

Ethel loved her home and was sad to see it go, Sheila added, but finally accepted it had to be sold.

Following a game of birthday bingo on Thursday, senior members of Keychange Charity, which owns the Roman Road home, celebrated with Ethel at lunchtime. Then other friends, residents and staff had a party in the afternoon and in the evening, Ethel’s family joined her for a private party and some “bubbly”.

Romans’ manager, Vanessa Farmer, said: “When Ethel was asked about the arrangements, she said ‘an all day party, yes, I think I am still young enough to do that’.”

Longevity could be in her genes as her mother died at the age of 96 and her grandmother lived to the age of 99.

One of five children, Ethel was born in London in 1909 and later married there. She had two children, Sheila and Jim.

All three of them were affected by hearing loss after a bomb blast near their home. They moved to Scotland to get away from the bombing, only to find it then began near their home there, too.

Ethel moved to Brighton in her 40s. She bought and ran an extremely sucessful, small hotel called Ashley House until she retired in her mid-60s.

Sheila, 74, from Hove, said: “For a few years, she kept saying ‘I have retired too early, I should have worked a bit longer’.”

When Ethel moved to Southwick, she joined the local WI and, being a keen gardener, she grew lots of plants, selling them at the weekly market.

Ethel’s other great love is writing short stories.

“She wrote lots and lots of stories,” said Sheila. “The teacher from her writing class said to her ‘you must send them away for publishing’ but she never did it.”

Knowing her mum had always regretted that decision, Sheila typed up 15 stories Ethel had written in her 70s and sent them away to two magazine publishers.

She admitted they were a little dated, so wasn’t entirely surprised when they were rejected, but she was grateful for two lovely letters from the publishers praising they way they brought the “old days” to life.

Now, they get passed around the family, who are very proud and fond of Ethel.

“She was a hard-working lady and is very considerate of other people,” added Sheila. “She always puts other people first.”

“She used to be such a storyteller, to me and to the children.

“Her stories were so vivid. They always had a happy ending but they went through a bit of tragedy.”

Ethel has five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren, with another due in the next week or so.

Sheila said they lost her brother Jim six years ago but his widow Pat and family were still in Durrington.

 

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