WHEN you ask Gladys Hallam her age, she will confidently respond: ‘I’m 21 multiplied by four plus 16’.
Showstopping celebrations to mark her centenery on Tuesday (October 29) were held at Heathbrook House where, as well as receiving her card from HM The Queen, she partied with residents to 60s music and enjoyed a buffet with friends and family. Among them were her two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A reslient woman of subtance, Gladys has been through her fair share of trials and tribulations in life. Barely expected to survive childhood let alone live until the age of 100, she contracted ‘wasting disease’ in her early years, developing bronchiectasis, a chronic lung infection that she’s endured a lifetime.
A girl of the country, she enjoyed the stunning confines of Bretton Park in her younger years, known today as Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where her father worked as head gamekeeper for Lord Allendale.
The English rose was just 20 by the time she’d met, fallen in love and married her first husband, Les. Their daughter was seven when tragedy struck and Les was killed in North Africa where he was serving in the army. She was to be widowed for the second time at the age of 57 with the sudden death of second husand, Bill with whom she had their second daughter.
Never one to give up, she continued her journey through life with a resolute conviction, finding work delivering meals to Yorkshire coalminers. Bright, sprightly and fearless for her time, Gladys had no idea she’d be transporting them on a motorbike and quickly learnt the skill overnight.
In the years that followed, she worked as a GPO receptionist until well into her 60s and assembling tubestacks for her son-in-law’s engineering business in Redditch where she worked until her late 80s.
Despite the storms of life, Gladys has always made a positive social contribution with charity work for hospitals that included Birmingham and Solihull.
Moving to Dodford to live with her daughter, she continued her life-long commitment to charity, knitting 350 hat and jacket sets for Gambian children and premature babies.
Stoke Prior Village Hall was a regular stomping ground for Gladys where she loved to dance until the ripe young age of 97 after which she made her decision to move to Heathbrook House.
Senior activities co-ordinator Gail Bessant said: “She’s a sweet-natured character with a fantastic sense of humour and a true inspiration.”
Staff nurse Wendy Williams added: “Gladys is such a loving family person and we all love her very much.”