Cheers to this former globetrotter born during the First World War as she celebrates 102 years

A woman born during the First World War, who went on to travel the globe in later years with her husband, celebrates 102 years this month.

Polly celebrates with her 102 birthday balloon
Polly celebrates with her 102 birthday balloon

Mary Elizabeth Szeliga, also known as Polly, celebrated her birthday on Sunday, June 2, with members of her family, fellow residents and members of the care team at Hawthorn Court care home in Hebburn.

Born in Clegwell Cottages in Hebburn, Polly was the middle child of three, with an older brother, William, and a younger sister, Sarah.

Mary Elizabeth Szeliga, known as Polly, in her younger days

Before she married her husband, Jan (John) Szeliga, Polly worked for Reyrolle and Pryotenax.

Then she would often accompany John on long-haul voyages around the world, linked to his work, as he was employed as an engineering officer in the Merchant Navy.

The pair would also often visit John’s family in his home country of Poland.

They bought and lived in a bungalow in Monkton Village, where Polly stayed until she was 99 years old.

Mary Elizabeth Szeliga with her husband, Jan (John)

She then moved to live in Hawthorn Court, where she has lived ever since.

To celebrate Polly’s special day, Hawthorn Court organised a special party, that Polly much enjoyed after going out with her family, visiting from Bournemouth, for a birthday meal.

Polly said afterwards that she had had a wonderful birthday and was made to “feel like a queen” for the day.

Hawthorn Court Home manager, Amanda Sleightholme, said: “What a joy it was to be able to celebrate such a special birthday with Polly.

Clegwell Cottages

“She is a truly remarkable lady, and on behalf of everyone at Hawthorn Court I would like to wish her a very happy birthday.”