100 YEARS YOUNG

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    THERE aren’t too many people who can claim to have turned 100 twice, but former nursing sister Evelyn Stuart has managed the seemingly impossible. She was born as Evelyn Hopper in Co. Tyrone on June 8, 1922 and is recorded as such in church records. However, her family did not register their new arrival until a week later and the person who took the details mistakenly recorded the birth as having taken place on the day of the registration. Hence all Evelyn’s official documents report her as a week younger than she is. Thankfully Evelyn lived to see both birthdays and celebrated the ‘wrong’ one yesterday (Wednesday) at the Bangor home of her niece, Mandy McEvoy, with whom she has lived since November last year. Mandy held an open house for her aunt, with Prosecco and champagne as a welcome for Evelyn’s visiting friends, former neighbours and her close family in Bangor and Helen’s Bay. “You can’t let a 100th birthday go by without doing something,” remarks Mandy. She recalls that her aunt had a successful career as a nurse, working first in London, then Gibraltar, before taking up a post as a theatre sister at Musgrave Park Hospital. Evelyn also worked as a clinical teacher in orthopaedics at Musgrave Park and contributed articles to the Nursing Times. In what spare time her career afforded her, Evelyn was a keen golfer and a former Lady Captain of Balmoral Golf Club, where she met her late husband who she married in her early 40s. Her nursing continued beyond the hospital wards and she cared for her husband at home until his death from cancer in 1991 and also for his mother until she died aged 98. Like so many others, Evelyn struggled with the isolation of life in a nursing home during the pandemic and in light of what Evelyn had done for so many others, Mandy brought her to live with her in Bangor. “I just felt it was about time for someone to look after her,” says Mandy. She describes her aunt as knowledgeable, well organised and liking things to be ‘just so’, standards in keeping with her former career. Mandy continues, “She has a lovely sense of humour and a beautiful wee smile with a twinkle in the eye. She is very witty and when the carers come in she can crack a joke and they have a wee laugh. She’s lovely.”