Celebrating another 100th birthday — and it’s becoming more common!

In 1911, only 107 people reached the age of 100 in the UK. In 2020, that number skyrocketed to 15,120 — and it’s estimated that one in three babies born today will live to see their one-hundredth birthdays.

Yet, while it’s becoming more and more common for people to celebrate the milestone, it’s always exciting when one of our residents hits the big 1-0-0. 

Whenever it happens, we love to make a fuss, joining family and friends to watch their loved one receive their special telegram and blow out a lot of candles. 

Here, we reflect on the latest centenarian birthday at Fulford and share some inspiring stories to prove that life begins at 100.  

Happy 100th, Ethel!

Our resident, Ethel Craven, was born in July 1923. The second youngest of eight children, she lived all her life in Wheldrake and never ventured abroad.

Instead, she ran a farm with her beloved husband Walter, and joined us at Fulford Nursing Home in 2016.

To celebrate her special day, more than 40 family and friends came to the home to enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea, see Ethel open her telegram from HRH, and watch her cut her cake.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and it was an absolute privilege to host Ethel’s loved ones.

Life in 1923

When Ethel was born, life in the UK was very different. The roaring twenties were in full swing as peace and prosperity returned following the end of the First World War.

Here are a few notable events from a century ago:

  • George V was on the throne.
  • Stanley Baldwin succeeded Bonar Law as the Prime Minister.
  • The original Wembley Stadium was opened to the public for the first time.
  • The first BBC broadcast from Sheffield took place.

Notable births that year included the astronomer Patrick Moore, comedian Eric Sykes, novelist Judith Kerr, and filmmaker Richard Attenborough. 

How do you arrange a 100th birthday telegram from HRH?

Many people don’t realise that, so long as you’re a British citizen and receive a State Pension (or another state benefit), you’ll automatically receive a birthday message from the King and the Queen Consort when you reach your 100th birthday.

A special Centenarian Team at the Department for Work and Pensions will notify the Palace’s Anniversaries Office of citizens approaching their milestone birthday to ensure everyone receives a message.

Note: If you’re unsure your loved one qualifies, you can apply online here.

Once arranged, the birthday telegram is sent via Royal Mail Special Delivery using the name and address on the person’s State Pension (or application form). 

You can read more about this long-standing tradition on the Royal Family’s website.

What’s the secret to living to 100?

Unfortunately, there’s no secret to becoming a centenarian. Diet, lifestyle, genetics and a healthy dose of luck are at play when it comes to longevity. 

However, living a long and happy life will almost always require consistent, healthy choices over many years — especially as you become older. 

That’s why we pay close attention to our residents’ diet and daily activity levels. By making sure they have healthy and nourishing food for every meal and plenty of opportunities to exercise (both physically and mentally), we help maintain and improve their quality of life.

You can read more about some of our nursing home activities here.

Notable centenarians: life begins at 100 

While reaching 100 is becoming less rare, it’s still noteworthy. Many centenarians have been the subject of news stories over the last few years, proving there’s always time to achieve something special. 

  • In 2015, Japan’s Hidekichi Miyazaki earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records by winning a 100m sprint at the age of 105.
  • In the same year and country, 100-year-old Mieko Nagaoka became the first centenarian to complete a 1,500m swim in a 25m pool.
  • Also in 2015, Marjorie “Bo” Gilbert, from South Wales, became the first centenarian to appear in Vogue magazine. She was featured as part of an ad for Harvey Nichols.
  • And in 2017, 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins became the oldest woman ever in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. She ran the 100m in a record-breaking 40.12 seconds and only began training for track and field a year earlier!

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