100th birthday delight at the double

Chalking up a century is a very special cause for celebration indeed.

Saturday, 26th December 2020, 9:56 am
Muriel and Denis' 100th birthdays are within two days of each other

Complete with a greeting from her Majesty The Queen, 100 years old is an age only a small minority of us manage to reach.

So for two people in the same apartments building to attain that landmark of longevity within a couple of days of each other is particularly notable – and no wonder the fellow residents of The Homestead in Lytham are eager to pass on their congratulations.

When Muriel Ingham and Denis Smith were born on December 26, 1920 and December 28, 1920 respectively, the First World War had only recently ended, the Roaring Twenties were about to start and TV was still six years away from being invented.

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Denis Smith and Muriel Ingham chatting at The Homestead in Lytham

But both are still living independently within the Homestead apartments complex on Henry Street, proud of long lives well lived and sure to be inundated with congratulations galore on reaching three figures.

Celebration plans have had to be curtailed by the pandemic restrictions but the good folk of The Homestead plan to lay on a cake and mark the big occasion within the Covid rules tomorrow.

“They are both lovely people,” said a spokesman for the Homestead.

“100 years is a wonderful landmark - everyone here is so delighted for them.”

Muriel, originally from Manchester, is a former headteacher who worked in the Midlands and decided to return to her native north following the death of her second husband Ralph in 1987.

She has lived at The Homestead since 1990 and tragically lost her first husband in the Second World War, just days after they were married.

Muriel worked in the ministry of supply as a shorthand typist during the Second World War and married first husband Harry Hatton, her childhood sweetheart, in 1941.

Three days after their wedding, he was posted to the Far East where he was taken a prisoner of war by the Japanese. She never saw him again, as he died of starvation in the POW camp.

She trained as a teacher after the war and married Ralph in 1957.

Muriel, a grandmother of two, is an accomplished pianist who performed across Europe and on several visitors to the USA.

She said: “My years at The Homestead have been very happy.

“I miss the lovely social events we used to have and the festivities among all the residents.

“Looking back, I have been fortunate to have good health, always a roof over my head, sufficient money to live comfortably and a loving family and friends around me.”

Denis is originally from Blackburn but spent most of his life in the Preston and Leyland area.

After working for Thomas Dryden and Sons engineers and iron founders through the war – and being part of the local ‘Dad’s Army’ – he took his trained electrician skills to the plumbing firm run by Preston North End legend Sir Tom Finney, and recalls the star giving all his employees free tickets form the 1954 DFA Cup final at Wembley.

Denis later worked for Leyland Motors.

He met his wife Agnes at a dance in 1942 and they were married for 49 years up to her death in March 1993.

They enjoyed ballroom dancing and were successful in competitions.

They had three sons, Michael, Tony and the late Martin, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Denis came to live at the Homestead in 2013. “I’ve been really very happy throughout my time here,” he said.

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