A kind-hearted County Derry centenarian has handed over birthday donations from friends and family to Marie Curie Nurses in recognition of the local work they do.
Kathleen Ferris, from Limavady, was born just after the end of World War I in 1919 and celebrated her 100th birthday back in April with a big party organised by her family.
Kathleen’s son, Brendan, said she has dedicated her life to her family, having to raise her five children herself after her husband, Navy seaman James Ferris from Drumsurn, died suddenly after a fall from a coal boat travelling from Liverpool to Coleraine back in November 1955. Kathleen, who was pregnant at the time, gave birth to her fifth child, Brendan, in March the following the year.
Brendan said his mother raised Seamus, Thomas, Maureen (who moved to Australia and has since passed away), Angela and himself, with the help of her own two sisters, Maggie and Jessie.
“My mother was devoted to raising her family and I never remember her being sick a day in her life apart from the normal cold or ‘flu. She is very healthy and to this day she has never been in hospital ,” Brendan said.
Kathleen, who has 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, today lives with her daughter, Angela, on the same street where she herself grew up and spent most of her life and her son reckons longevity may well be in the genes.
“My mother came from a family of nine - eight girls and one boy,” Brendan said. “The whole family, with the exception of one sister, lived into their late 80s and 90s. “
Speaking about his mother turning 100, Brendan added: “We decided we were going to have a party and we had a party in my sister and brother-in-law’s house, Angela and Robert. Two granddaughters who had come over from Australia for her 90th birthday came back again with their families for her 100th.”
“There were about 120 people there with a live band and we all decided, herself included - at 100 years of age she didn’t want presents - and wanted to give donations to a charity and we thought Marie Curie would be a good one in recognition of the work they do locally. My wife Patricia is a nurse and used to work with them.”
And good genes aside, Kathleen’s nature could well be another reason for her rude health at 100. “She’s a fantastic woman, and the most easy going woman you’ll ever meet in your life!” Brendan added.