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Darwen woman, 105, says secret to long life is happiness
2:10pm Thursday 23rd August 2012 in News
WITH youthful enthusiasm, Ethel Gunning remembers horse-drawn carts, the reign of King George VI and life throughout the 20th Century.
A lifelong resident of Darwen, Ethel is getting ready for her 105th birthday party on Saturday.
When asked what the secret was to her long life, she said: “I never married, I never smoked, I never drank alcohol, but I was always happy.”
Living through two world wars, all three of London’s so-called ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Olympic Games and from Edward VII’s reign to the current reign of Elizabeth II, she said: “I’ve been a good girl, but I’m no angel.”
Born in 1907, one of her oldest memories was the visit of King George VI to Darwen.
She said: “I was only in day school. We went down to Bolton Road and the market had been cleared away so we got to see him go by.”
Ethel, who now lives in Oldfield House residential care home, Hawkshaw Avenue, also fondly remembered when the first car in the town was bought.
She said: “Everything was horses and carts, even the doctor used to come by horse.
“When someone first bought a motor car we all ran to watch, it was very exciting.”
Ethel started work at the age of 13 at Hoddlesden Mill, along with her two sisters, Florence and Annie.
With the exception of during the two world wars, Ethel carried on working in the mill until she reached 60, when she retired.
She said: “It was hard work, but you just did it. You made friends there and that was nice, but when I retired, that’s when I really had fun.”
After retiring, Ethel and her sisters went on numerous holidays, but never outside the UK. She remembers trips to Morecambe, Cornwall and Scotland.
Ethel is now the only surviving member of her family.
Her sister Annie died when she was 91 and Florence, two years Ethel’s senior, lived to the age of 103.
Ethel said: “The girls here at the home are very good, they are organising something for me.
“I should be getting another letter from the Queen too, so that’ll be nice.”
She added: “I can say I’ve had a good innings. I have certainly made the most of the little I have had.”
The year Ethel was born
- March 22, 1907: The first taxicabs with meters began operating in London
- May 26, 1907: Star of the big screen John Wayne, was born in Iowa USA, and went on to star in 142 movies, mainly westerns
- August 1 to 9, 1907: Robert Baden-Powell led the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island
- September 7, 1907: RMS Lusitania set off on its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York
- December 21, 1907: Adolf Hitler’s mother, Klara Hitler, died, aged 47