September 30th, 2016

Northfield 101-year-old puts longevity down to determination and sense of humour

Northfield 101-year-old puts longevity down to determination and sense of humour Northfield 101-year-old puts longevity down to determination and sense of humour
Updated: 6:01 am, Jul 11, 2015

SHEER determination and having a good sense of humour has been the key to helping one 101-year-old grandmother stay young at heart.

Beatie Johnson celebrated reaching the milestone on Monday (July 6) at The Beeches Residential Care Home, in Northfield, where she has lived for three years.

Beatie was born in 1914 on the doorstep of her parent’s home in Selly Oak and has lived in Birmingham every since – her family origins date back in the city from the 1700s.

When she was younger Beatie lived at Allen’s Farm with her father Geoff Obrey and sister Nellie, a few hundred yards from The Beeches.

Beatie had a tough childhood as her mother had tuberculosis and spent a lot of time in hospital, she sadly died when she was nine.

She and her younger sister were brought up by different sets of grandparents. Beatie lived with her paternal grandparents John and Esther.

When Beatie was 14 she started work at Harbourne’s Chad Valley factory making Christmas crackers and painting toys.

In May 1940 she married Geoff Obrey who she had grown up around the corner from.

During the war her home was destroyed by a bomb, along with several others on her street. She, miraculously, survived after taking refuge in a shelter in her garden.

Beatie said: “I never like talking about the war because there are too many memories.

“I do remember the houses next door being bombed and it blew the roof off our house. I had to move out for six months.”

Beatie’s son David was born a few months later in August 1941 and she had to single-handedly bring him up while his father was serving in the army in India and the far East.

David said: “She’s a very strong-willed lady and I think that’s what’s kept her going.

“That’s got her through all the adversities in her life and has helped her struggle on bravely. She’s a real survivor.

“My dad was in the army so was missing for five years while he was serving in India so she had to bring me up during the war on only ten shillings a week.”

Sadly the couple’s second son Clive was born prematurely in 1944 and died at just four days old.

After Geoff died in 1979, Beatie found happiness again marrying childhood friend Leslie Johnson.

David said they had a very happy marriage and the 15 years they spent together were the best of her life.

Michelle Pilgrim, the home’s deputy manager, said: “Beatie is an incredibly inspirational lady and we are so proud to be celebrating such a special birthday with her.

“She is living proof that if you are determined you can achieve anything you want.”