Tributes as South Shields' oldest resident Mena Larkin dies aged 109
A South Tyneside centenarian who retained her independence and zest for life to the grand age of 109 has died.
Mena Larkin quickly became a popular and well-loved resident of Westoe Grange Care Home after moving in almost three years ago.
She had previously lived at Patrick Cain House in South Eldon Street, where she took part in a number of social events and activities helping to raise funds for children of Oakleigh Gardens School.
At the age of 102, she was still getting out and about, even visiting the school to deliver a number of special gifts to youngsters for Christmas.
In June, Mena celebrated turning 109 with a special birthday treat organised by staff at the care home and her nephew Bobby.
She was joined on her special day by Paralympic gold medal swimmer and MBE Josef Craig and entertained by South Tyneside singer James Bassett, known for his ukulele playing skills and appeared on TV Show Little Big Shots after he was talent spotted by its producers.
Mena, who is believed to have been the 21st oldest person in the country and the oldest in South Tyneside, died at South Tyneside District Hospital on September 12 after contracting pneumonia.
Nephew Robert Burn, who she affectionately called Bobby, said: “Mena was my wife Jean’s aunt. Jean died in January and I continued to go up and see her every week.
“She was such an independent woman. She was extremely lucky as healthwise she had nothing wrong with her, she had never broken a bone - it was only in the last six months she started to become disorientated.
“She was such a character, she is going to be a big miss.”
Mena was born in South Shields in 1909 and spent her childhood growing up in and around South Frederick Street.
As a child she sold fruit and vegetables every week with her father at South Shields Market and was well known in the town.
She moved to London with her husband, Alexander, but later returned to her home town following her his death in 1971,
When she returned to the borough she was one of the first to move into Patrick Cain House.
Mena played for Cleadon Ladies’ Bowling Club, helping her team win a number of competitions. Her other hobbies included painting, pottery and knitting.
Liz Capewell, assistant manager at Westoe Grange Care Home said: “Mena was a wonderful lady and it was such a pleasure and a privilege to have been given the opportunity to take care of her.
“She will be a huge miss.”
A funeral for Mena will take place on Monday, September 24, at South Shields Crematorium at 2pm.
The family have requested donations in lieu of flowers to the Residents Fund at Westoe Grange Care Home.