Adventurous resident at Cornwallis Court celebrates her 100th birthday

15 July 2020

A resident at Cornwallis Court, in Bury St Edmunds, who was once a champion fencer, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Jean Wood, who has lived at the Home since 2012, was surprised and delighted when family members ‘dropped in’ to say happy birthday, via video call, from around the World.

Before the pandemic, her family overseas had planned to be with Jean in person to celebrate. When this had to be cancelled, Jean told staff how disappointed she was that she wouldn’t see them.

So, kind-hearted staff at the Home set about organising a day of surprise video calls for Jean with her family and friends in Australia, the USA, Isle of Mann and Canada.

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

Jean told carers: “Isn’t modern technology wonderful! To be able to see everyone all over the world is just marvellous!”

Jean’s family who live nearer the Home 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.

Jean was born and raised in Wanstead, London, on 14th July 1920. 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 Jean worked in a haberdasher’s 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 has eight grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren, who she adores.

Jean also has a party at the Home to look forward to next Saturday with her fellow residents and staff.

Jean is known for adventurous spirit. She celebrated her 99th birthday last year by enjoying a ride on a Harley Davidson!

What’s the secret to her long and happy life? Jean 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.”

Asked how she has coped during the pandemic, Jean 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, 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.”