Former South Tyneside councillor, mayor and charity champion given day of surprises to celebrate 90th birthday in lockdown
Former mayor, councillor and charity champion, Maisie Stewart turned 90 on Monday, May 18.
But despite having to cancel her plans due to the coronavirus outbreak, dozens of loved ones, councillors and members of the community turned out to help her celebrate safely at home.
Maisie became a councillor for Jarrow - the town where she was born and bred - in 1972 - and was one of the last people to be Mayor of Jarrow before it became part of South Tyneside Council.
She went onto serve as a councillor for South Tyneside until the age of 80 and in 1999 while serving as Lord Mayor of South Shields, the ferry landing was opened and named Maise’s Landing in her honour.
Many of Maisie’s years have been dedicated to her charity work and in 1973 she founded the Macmillan Fundraising Group in South Tyneside, which today is run by her niece Beryl Coffey.
It was a charity close to her heart, having lost family members to cancer, including her ‘childhood sweetheart’ and husband of 40 years, Jarrow artist Ken Stewart.
Today Maisie still runs the Bilton Hall club, which meets every Monday for raffles, bingo and day trips.
“I still feel young at heart,” said Maisie, a great-grandmother-of-six.
“My secret to a long and happy life is just to be friendly and kind.”
On Monday afternoon, Maisie was surprised by a performance from Hebburn singer ‘Wor Vera’ Deborah Taylor-Smith, who serenaded her from the garden.
Friends, family, Bilton Club members and councillors from the Jarrow Labour Party also visited to wish her a happy birthday from the street and the Regional Constituency Labour Party surprised her with an award for her long service.
“Even though she has been at home she had a wonderful day,” said Maise’s daughter, Gill Farham, 59.
“She was absolutely delighted by all the surprises and over the moon to see everyone. She’s been truly spoiled and she deserves it, she’s always been so kind and caring, she helps anybody she can.”