Happy 103rd, Eileen

By Geoff Lee

February 23, 2016 11:01 AM

Awcock said there was no great secret to her longevity, just "straight forward living" that will get her to March 6. Her formula also includes eating well, getting along with people and and working hard.

Pioneer Lodge’s oldest resident Eileen Awcock has leaked her secret to longevity to the media in advance of her 103rd birthday.
“The centenarian will celebrate her long life on March 6 owing to what she calls “straight forward living.”
Her formula also includes eating well and getting along with people and working hard.
“I worked hard, yes,” she said.
“I married a farmer – my parents had a guest house so I worked there.”
The family farm in Sussex, England was a mixed offering,  with a milking herd not far from her birthplace in Pirbright at the south end of the country.
Awcock miraculously survived a bout of the Spanish flu that killed millions when she was just three.
It’s been the only major health hiccup of her life.
During the Second World War, prisoners of war, including Italians, were sent to work on her parents’ farm.
“Mom was sort of the head cook and bottle washer,” said her daughter Jill Lakins, who helped fill in the blanks.
Awcock was born in 1913, one year after the Titanic sunk, and one year before the outbreak of the First World War.
All that’s water under the bridge with her special birthday in the advanced planning stages.
“Her birthday’s on a Sunday so it will work out nicely to have a piece of cake and a cup of tea or something, or English gin I guess,  just to sort of celebrate the day,” explained Lakins who turns 80 this year.
“That will be two o’clockish or something like we usually do.”
As for gifts, Lakins said her mom needs a new cardigan.
“We’re practical these days,” she said with a laugh.
Elizabeth Horon, the head resident support worker at Pioneer asked what do you buy someone who is 103?
“Skis? No.
“She loves flowers. so probably a bunch of flowers,” she said of her gift to Awcock.
Growing up on her English farm picking bluebells was one of Awcock’s favourite pastimes.
“I loved natural life,” she said.
Awcock emigrated to Canada in the 1980s after her husband died.
She settled in Lloydminster where her daughter practiced medicine from 1968 to about two years ago.
Her 77-year-old son Gerald owns a taxi business in the UK.
Lakins is the one who spilled her family’s secret to living well for so long.
“We probably grew up in a simpler time,” she said.
“We certainly walked everywhere because there weren’t that many buses.”
At 103 Awcock is in good health and up until recently, she road an exercise bike at the lodge.
“Homecare helps her with baths and other than she is very self sufficient,” added Horon.
“Her friend Lena takes her to all the activities.”
Awcock and Lena Dribnenky moved into Pioneer Lodge one day apart a couple years ago from Knox Manor and the two have been inseparable ever since.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” said Dribnenky who will be 90 in August.
Dribnenky was sick last year when Awcock turned 102 but plans to be among the 100 or residents who will be at her friend’s upcoming birthday.
“Because it’s only the 103rd not the 105th it will be just word of mouth friends – mostly it will be the residents because that’s mom’s family now,” said Lakins.
Awcock has settled comfortably to her new surroundings where she finds the living is easy.
“I like it very much,” she said.
“Everybody is very friendly and the food is good and we are well looked after — I have no complaints about it at all.”
When Awcock turned 100, Lakins phoned Buckingham Palace to inquire about getting a note from the queen to go with notes of congratulations from the Prime Minister and other officials given to centenarians.
With more than 100 years of living behind her, Awcock couldn’t pinpoint the fondest memories of her early years.
“They are all lovely I enjoyed all of them,” she said.

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