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Ethel set to celebrate 100th birthday after conquering Covid-19


Ethel at her care home

Ethel at her care home

Ethel as a younger woman

Ethel as a younger woman

Ethel with her son Samuel

Ethel with her son Samuel

Ethel at her care home

When 99-year-old Belfast nursing home resident Ethel Sinclair tested positive for Covid-19 in early April, her family immediately feared the worst.

But not only has she beaten the virus, she is also celebrating her 100th birthday next week - a day her family thought she might not live to see.

Wednesday will be the big day for Ethel, having been born on May 13, 1920.

Her grand-daughter Ashleigh Fox said she must be made of strong stuff.

"She just keeps on going. It doesn't look like anything can beat her," she said.

"We were all worried when we got the news last month that she had tested positive in the nursing home, but she's been through a lot these past couple of years and it seems this virus wasn't going to beat her either."

Ethel, born Margaret Ethel McFadden with two sisters and two brothers, has always stuck by what she knows best - Belfast life.

"She's now living at Bradley Manor off the Crumlin Road. She knows what she likes and she likes it there," Ashleigh explained.

Ethel, who grew up on Silvio Street, just off Crumlin Road, believes there's no big secret to her longevity beyond simply enjoying life.

"I love a cup of tea and cream buns. Chocolate eclairs are my favourite," she said.

"I still think of myself as a 20-year-old who loves dancing.

"Although my hearing has gone a little these days, I can still give a good scolding when I need to."

Having lived through the Second World War, the Belfast blitz and the Troubles, Ethel has endured hard times during her 100 years.

"Her mother died when she was just six years old. After marrying and having two children, my father Samuel and his sister Lorraine, she lost her husband Jim to cancer 40 years ago, but she kept on going," Ashleigh told this newspaper.

"She suffered a bad fall when she was 97. She spent several months in hospital with a broken hip and wrist and contracted MRSA while when was in there, but we're all delighted to still have her with us as she reaches 100 years.

"Contracting coronavirus was a big concern for us, but thankfully, though she tested positive, her symptoms turned out to be quite mild.

"Throughout it she was determined to stay in her home. She wasn't for going to hospital and wanted to be where she felt safe and secure.

"The care the staff at Bradley Manor gave her helped her stay where she wanted to be.

"We just can't thank them enough for all that they have done these past few weeks. Coronavirus still knocked her back a good bit and, given her age, the recovery is slow, but we all take it in turns to FaceTime her every day.

"She might not be up to date with technology, but the staff in Bradley Manor have been fantastic in helping her.

"She loves nothing more than seeing her great-grandchildren. All the family have been there for her in whatever way we can.

"None of us have actually seen her since the home closed to visitors in the middle of March.

"While we did have plans to celebrate her birthday at Belfast Castle and let her look down over the city she loves so much, we've obviously had to put any big family gatherings on hold until the situation changes.

"But we have been in touch with Bradley Manor and we're all hoping to be there in the car park next week to see her on her birthday.

"Though she's in bed most of the time recovering, the staff are hoping to get her down to reception and wheel her to the door so she can see all of us."

Birthday cards can be sent to Ethel, addressed Bradley Manor, 420 Crumlin Road, BT14 7GE

Belfast Telegraph