Isobel’s 100 years a lady

100 years old Isobel Manning baking pancakes at her home. (1208PG10)
100 years old Isobel Manning baking pancakes at her home. (1208PG10)

Waterside woman Isobel Manning will celebrate her 100th birthday this evening surrounded by family and friends - and the lively lady may just outdance them all.

For Isobel still enjoys the best of health and a very active lifestyle despite her advancing years - and the secret to her long life? Well, Isobel puts it down to a diet of “plain, good food”.

Admitting she enjoys the basics of meat, potatoes and veg and looks forward to a “good Sunday dinner” each weekend with her sons John and Wilson, Isobel said she has led a good life and looks forward to celebrating with her family.

“I was a bit nervous, but I realise this (turning 100) doesn’t happen very often. I’d better make the most of it!”.

Born on August 10, 1911, Isobel Miller, the eldest of seven daughters to William and Martha Miller, grew up in Ivy Terrace and spent a few years living with her granny in Limavady.

She attended First Derry School and Ogilby Trust National School before starting work for Cooke’s Hardware in Waterloo Place when she 19 as an office girl before marrying Robert (Bobby) Manning in 1935.

“In those days, when you got married, you stopped working. That was the way it was.”

Nine years later she gave birth to her son John, who was followed by Wilson and she remains the heart of her family with seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

“I love to see them coming. I love my great grandchildren,” Isobel said, the youngest great grandchild being only a few weeks old.

Isobel has seen many changes in Derry. As she points out she has seen all three bridges built across the Foyle, and recalls crossing the Carlisle Bridge which preceded the Craigavon Bridge. It is one of her ambitions to make it down and across the new Peace Bridge.

Fiercely independent, Isobel still bakes for her family several days a week. (Tuesdays are pancake days, Fridays are reserved for wheaten bread). She still gets her hair done every fortnight and every Thursday does her own shopping, with a family member on hand, in Long’s Supermarket at Rossdowney before going to meet friends for lunch. She has lived at her home in Emerson Street for some 30 years. “I have great neighbours. We like to catch up with each other and there has never been any bother.”

Like the Queen, Isobel also manages to celebrate two birthdays a year. “For years we always celebrated on the 12th,” her son Wilson explained. “It’s only recently we discovered her birthday is actually the 10th.”