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Woman who survived Spanish flu epidemic lives to be 100

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Marjorie celebrates her 100th with her son and daughter
Marjorie celebrates her 100th with her son and daughter

A WOMAN born at the height of the Spanish flu epidemic in Britain managed to escape catching the virus – and has now celebrated her 100th birthday.

Marjorie Blackburn reached the milestone at Highcliffe Nursing Home in Stuart Road last Friday.

When her mother Elizabeth was expecting Marjorie, she was sent to Swanage to live with Marjorie’s grandparents after an outbreak of Spanish flu in Nottingham, where her family lived. The virus claimed thousands of babies and children’s lives in the UK.

After Marjorie was born and once the danger had passed, the pair moved back to Nottingham where her and her six siblings grew up. It was there she met her future husband John at a wartime dance.

He was an electrical maintenance engineer in the RAF stationed at a nearby airfield. The couple wed in 1942 in Nottingham.

They moved to London after the war, going on to have two children, Louise and Michael. The family lived most of their working life in Wanstead.

Marjorie enjoyed living in London, especially shopping in the West End. She had a wide range of hobbies, including arts and crafts, painting, knitting, sewing and lace making.

Marjorie and John's wedding day
Marjorie and John's wedding day

After her husband retired as film lighting manager with the BBC, the couple decided to move to Barton in 1971.

When John suffered a series of strokes Marjorie cared for him and helped him to learn to speak, spell and write again. He died in 1984.

Marjorie continued to live on her own, often flying to Aberdeen to visit her daughter Louise and her family.

This week both Louise and her brother Michael attended a special birthday party held for Marjorie at the nursing home where she has been living for the past year.

Home manager Tracey Miller said the afternoon tea party had gone “brilliantly” adding: “Marjorie doesn’t normally drink but she had a glass of bubbles to celebrate her 100th. Marjorie was thrilled to reach that age, she said she never expected to.

“She puts her long life down to ‘good, clean, living’. She is very happy in the home and is a lovely resident.”

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