He may be living on the other side of the world – but Jim Edmond’s heart is still right here in South Shields.
The 102-year-old has been a resident of Canada since moving to Vancouver in 1929.
lthough it has been 86 years, I still feel like I left part of my heart in Shields. But, thanks to the magic of the internet, I am able to access the Gazette online and keep my connection to my home town alive.Jim Edmond
But while he has spent his adult life in the country he calls home, he says his heart has never left South Shields.
The centenarian is an avid online reader of the Shields Gazette, which helps him to keep up to date with what is happening in the town where he was born.
Earlier this month, on his 102nd birthday, his nephew Jamie Kuse was able to surprise his uncle with a special video message from the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham.
Mr Edmond said: “I am an avid daily reader of the Gazette online and I keep up with present conditions in town pretty well. Over the years I have had communications with Janis Blower, who writes the Cookson Country page.w
“I have not been back to Shields since I left. When I was younger it was financial reasons that prevented me from returning. When I was older and could have afforded to, something always seemed to get in the way.
“Although it has been 86 years, I still feel like I left part of my heart in Shields. But, thanks to the magic of the internet, I am able to access the Gazette online and keep my connection to my home town alive.”
Mr Edmond was born at home in Saville Street, South Shields, on March 7, 1913.
He attended Ocean Road School and on Saturdays would visit the Paragon Theatre, where he paid a penny for a stick of liquorice and saw a show. He would then go next door to Mancini’s ice cream store, where he would buy a cone for half a penny.
As a youngster he attended Sunday School at Waterloo Hall and was a member of the Boys Brigade at the Presbyterian church just off Mile End Road.
Mr Edmond left school at the age of 14 and was presented with a book, Round the World in 80 Days, from the headmaster Mr Wood. He went onto work a butcher’s store on John Clay Street then at Mason’s chemist, where he was paid six shillings a week.
He said: “Our favourite walk on a Sunday was the one to the end of the pier and back. When I was older I played football for the school at ‘the Dragon.’
He moved to Vancouver during the Great Depression, and spent most his life working in the steel industry.
Recalling the move from South Shields to Canada, he said: “When we first arrived, a new friend of my sister Doris asked why our brother always said ‘hooray’. What he was saying was actually “haway.”
Mr Edmond said: “Healthwise, I was doing very well until at the age of 99 I fell in the garden, breaking my hip. And for an encore, about a year after that I broke my other hip, which slowed me down quite a bit.
“However, at 102 I still live at home independently in the house I bought 65 years ago. We have a family history of people living to an old age. My mother lived to 95, my sister Doris, 90, and my brother to 89. My father was the youngest through years of smoking, only living until 82. It must have been all those stewed puddings.”