South Shields woman celebrating 100th birthday credits long life to 'hard work' and regular walks
A South Shields woman whose family has marked her 100th birthday with a series of celebrations says an independent spirit, ‘hard work’ and regular exercise are her secrets to long life.
Lilian Miller was born on March 5, 1921, in Hedley Street South and has spent her hundred years living in the town.
The oldest of seven children, she was christened at St Stephen’s Church on Mile End Road and attended Barns Road School, before seeing out her formal education at Dean Road School.
Her great-granddaughter, Emily Shiel, said: “Lillian has always been a strong, hardworking woman,” noting that she went “straight from school to working in Wright’s biscuit factory before going into service.”
The now-100-year old attributes her longstanding good health to a lifetime of hard work, abstinence and regular walks - one of her favourite pastimes.
“I’ve always been independent and worked hard,” she said.
"I don’t drink, and I’ve never smoked.”
She added that she hopes to be able to celebrate the milestone occasion with a spa holiday once restrictions begin to ease again.
Her extensive family held surprise celebrations at the Prince Edward Court sheltered accommodation on Gorse Avenue, where Lilian has lived since 2004.
Lillian had three daughters with her first husband, Alfred. Although she has outlived her siblings and two partners, she now enjoys keeping up to date with the progress of her eight grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren.
Ms Miller received birthday calls from relatives in a number of different countries as part of her hundredth celebrations.
“She’s a very family-orientated lady – and she does obviously have quite a vast family,” one of her granddaughters, Sandra Shiel, said.
"It’s been quite a negative time these past 12 months for a lot of people in Lilian’s situation, but she has still retained her sense of humour. She still tells a lot of stories of the war, of her childhood, where she grew up – she reminisces quite a lot.
"Pre-Covid, she was still quite sociable in terms of getting out to different group events in the area – mainly Happy Hubs and things to do with Old Friends Mission Church.
"Another thing she used to do a lot of in her younger years was walking – lots and lots of walking. She would often walk to Whitburn, to Jarrow, all around the Primrose area.
"She had her silver wedding anniversary in London and walked all around the place – she didn’t once get the Tube or the bus.”