Mary Jacob 107 – A true survivor

17th November 2021

Our oldest resident Mary Jacob, celebrated her 107th birthday today with an extra special party. Surrounded by relatives, friends and staff from her care home, Ingram House here at Whiteley Village, she clearly had a wonderful time – and in a great little video clip from her party, here she is singing ‘I’m 21 today’ (apologies for the background noise). 

A true survivor, Mary has lived through two global pandemics and two world wars – including numerous bombing raids while serving as a nurse for the Red Cross in London during World War II. During one attack, she was dramatically rescued by a soldier: “He threw me to the ground and jumped on top of me to protect me”, she said. “He saved my life. If he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be here”.

Born in Brockley, south London in 1914, Mary never married. Her family describe her as a `very selfless person’ who spent her life serving others. After the war she worked as a veterinary nurse and later cared for her parents until they died. She continued as a volunteer for the Red Cross however, and in 2000 was given a special award by the charity in recognition of her service.

During lockdown and supported by care staff, Mary adapted amazingly well to using new technology to help keep in touch with her family, and began her birthday celebrations with a video call to her 83 year old niece in Australia – excitedly sharing her latest telegram from The Queen.

Asked about her longevity Mary said: “I haven’t got any special secrets – in fact it’s a mystery how I’ve got to this age after so many near misses! But I’ve been lucky and had a good life, so I’m very content”.

Lisa Sparrow, manager of Ingram House said: “Mary is an incredible person. She lived at home independently until the amazing age of 105 before coming to us and is much loved by staff and residents alike.

“She’s always keen to try new things and has a fabulous sense of humour, and loves a party! A church choir singer in her younger days, Mary even joined our Whiteley Village community choir when it relaunched recently, which must make her one of the oldest choristers in the country! She certainly doesn’t let her age get in the way of enjoying life and is an inspiration to us all!”

Mary was interviewed on her birthday by Brooklands Radio, and their reporter also chatted to staff (Lisa Sparrow and Jess Sharp, Activities Coordinator – who helps to support Mary), and you can listen to the interview again here.

Happy birthday Mary from all of us at The Whiteley Homes Trust, and the residents of Whiteley Village!

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