Belfast Telegraph

Don't ever drink or smoke and you'll live long: Ellie (106)

By Amanda Ferguson

No smoking, no drinking - and enjoying the simple things in life.

To fun-loving centenarian Ellie Lawther - who celebrates her 106th birthday - they are the secrets to happiness and longevity.

Born on March 6, 1909, the east Belfast grandmother says she can't quite believe she has reached such a milestone.

"I am amazed about it," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The Lord has kept me going.

"I was always a busy little girl. I was the eldest of the family, you see.

"I never smoked or drank. I know the taste of alcohol but I wouldn't have it."

Ellie, a widowed mother of three children - Margaret (80), Fred (75) and Lesley (72) - and grandmother of nine had this advice for those hoping to live to a ripe old age.

"Live an ordinary life," she said.

"I got married, had my children, we had a home to go into and lived a simple life."

Ellie's husband Harold, a former Belfast Telegraph fitter, passed away when she was 80 and five years later she moved to St Finnian's on the Cregagh Road, an Abbeyfield Belfast Society-supported property.

Ellie is an east Belfast woman through and through.

"Woodstock and Cregagh is my area," she said. "I played up here. There were no houses about, not a house and there was only the one little footpath to walk up to the Rocky Road. So much has changed. I just love it here."

Ellie also has strong memories of being a child during the outbreak of the First World War.

"When the war started my cousin was coming 18 and he joined before they called them up," Ellie said.

"My mother went with his mother down to the docks. It sticks in my mind seeing all those young soldiers with their kit bags.

"There was hundreds of soldiers, and oh my goodness, I was amazed with the boats and all the singing.

"It was as if it was raised up to heaven. I will never forget it."

Ellie will celebrate today by having a party with friends and family.

Statistics for 2013 revealed 33,284 people - 10,575 men and 22,709 women - aged 85-plus live in Northern Ireland, including 233 centenarians.

A year of note

Ellie Lawther from east Belfast is older than Northern Ireland itself. In 1909 the Home Rule issue was beginning to dominate British politics. Born in 1909, it was the same year as the birth of Coleraine's William Cook, who played for football for Celtic, Everton and Ireland. Also in 1909, the now defunct retailer Woolworths opened its first store, the first rugby match was played at Twickenham, and French heroine Joan of Arc was beatified by Pope Saint Pius X.

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