Former Northampton care assistant for St Andrews Healthcare turns 100 years old

Not many people can say they moved to Africa at 80 years old. But that's exactly what outgoing Vera Ledwith did with her daughter, Susan.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 7:42 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 8:39 pm
Pictured from left to right: Family friends, Mary Lees and Andy Tate with Vera Ledwith (centre), daughter Susan Blake and close friend of the family Glynis Holland. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds.

Vera's family and friends gathered at her care home today (Monday) in Harlestone Road to wish her many happy returns as she turned 100 years old and received her birthday card from The Queen.

Born in Scaldwell in 1920 Vera grew up near Daventry where she lived before meeting her first husband, John Blake, who was billeted to Northampton from Scotland.

She met John at a dance during the Second World War and soon moved away with him to Kirkcaldy before they had their only child, Susan.

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While they lived in Scotland, the couple owned a confectionary shop and John was a master saddler who also owned a leathermaking store, which made saddles for circus elephants.

After many happy years together in Scotland, Vera moved back to Northampton when her husband died.

It was then she started working at St Andrews Healthcare as a care assistant where she worked for 20 years.

Vera, who started work at 14, has so far experienced 25 prime ministers in power and four monarchs.

Her daughter said it's 'unbelievable' that her mother is 100 years old.

Describing her mum, Susan said: "My mum had a better social life than I did.

"She was energetic, friendly, very active and would walk for miles.

"She was a really independent person and would look after herself when she came to Africa with me, she was about 80 then. It’s unbelievable she’s 100.”

When Vera was 80 years old she moved away with Susan, who gave up her job working in the haematology department at NGH, to move to Gambia to pursue a different lifestyle in the sun.

Susan had been on holiday there before and wanted a different pace of life so she took up work as a waitress, became a pot wash and volunteered in an art gallery, among other jobs, before moving back to Spinney Hill in 2006.

Right until September 2019, Vera lived with Susan at her house before she had a fall.

Consequently, her health did deteriorate, which meant she needed to move into a care home.

But Susan recalled happier times spent with her mum at the casino where she had a track record of winning, and fun times at the local pub. For the past some ten years - right up until Vera was 99 - she would honour a close friend and family tradition...

She loved to go down Spinney Hill pub on New Year's Eve and walk back home after the celebrations at 3am once she saw the the new year in.