Belfast Telegraph

Dunmurry's golden girls

Four ladies with the secret to long life: laughter, dancing and a glass of wine

By Amanda Ferguson

Could the secret of long life be hidden in a Dunmurry nursing home?

Staff at the Kingsway Private Home think it might be, after three remarkable residents celebrated major milestones in the last few days.

Peggy Doak turned 100 on June 11, Doris McCleery was 104 on June 8, and Irene Beattie turned 99 on June 4.

Reaching a ripe old age obviously runs in the Beattie family as Irene's sister Winnie, who is also a Kingsway resident, celebrated her 101st birthday on February 10.

The 'golden girls' told the Belfast Telegraph that singing, dancing, laughter, working hard, good food and wine were among their secrets to longevity.

And they have all been taking part in the triple June birthday celebrations alongside staff, family and friends.

Kingsway activities co-ordinator Lisa Mooney said: "It is a privilege to be involved working with the elderly, especially when the ladies are so full of life, are fit to interact and have a good quality of life. There is definitely something in the water up in Dunmurry."

Peggy, a former Monarch Laundry worker, lived a good part of her life in Turnin Street, off the Grosvenor Road. Her first husband Joseph Armstrong, the father of her two children, was lost at sea during World War II.

When Peggy's second husband Jim passed away, she moved to Kingsway.

The bubbly centenarian shared her secret to reaching 100. "Good food with a glass of wine," she said.

Retired Sandy Row newsagent Winnie (101) also shared her recipe for a long life. "Just keep on working and smiling," she said.

In February Doris (104) shared her love of the arts with Belfast Telegraph readers when a series of her ceramics went on display at the RIPE exhibition, co-ordinated by Arts Care as part of its Here & Now Festival.

Staff at Kingsway say Doris, who celebrated her birthday by dancing at her party, is "a very inspirational lady with the energy of someone half her age".

"I've had a good life," Doris said. "My parents thought a lot of their family and that was the start for us. I worked hard. Life was never dull."

FACTFILE

e It is estimated that in June 2012 there were 241 centenarians in Northern Ireland – a massive increase of 91% since June 2002.

e In June 2012, 32,700 people – just under 2% of the population – were aged 85 years and over.

e The population aged 85 and over has increased by 9,000 people (38%) in the 10-year period between June 2002 and June 2012.

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