PRAGMATISM, a happy marriage and a positive outlook on life have helped Bangor West woman Margaret (Marie) Forsyth reach the grand old age of 100.

Marie’s daughter Amanda Patterson says her mum has always known how to enjoy life and Marie’s smile suggests she continued to do that at a birthday party held at Carnalea Care Home last Friday, the day before her actual 100th. Marie has lived in Bangor West for the last 30 years but was raised in the Docks area of Belfast as her father was a shipyard worker for Harland and Wolff.

His father before him, Nathaniel Lazenbatt, had been a sailor from Croatia who had met his future wife on a trip to the province and settled here. Work and a desire to see the world took a young Marie Lazenbatt to the mainland followed by Europe, as Amanda explains. “She left Belfast and went to London just after the war and then worked in the Foreign Office in Germany as a shorthand typist. “That’s where she met my father (Bob) who was in the army. He was from Scotland and hadn’t been demobilised at that time. “They came back around 1950 and lived in Scotland for a while and then came back to Northern Ireland,” says Amanda. They had two daughters – Amanda and her late sister Deirdre – and Amanda recalls that Marie was a stay-at-home mother until Amanda, the youngest, reached primary school, after which she did a variety of administrative jobs in the private sector. “She worked right up until her and my father retired and moved to Sligo,” says Amanda. Meanwhile, Marie’s husband Bob worked in the Home Civil Service, running the Belfast office of a UK government department.

Amanda recalls: “Mum enjoyed life, she enjoyed her family and her friends. Her and my father loved the west coast of Ireland and we had a holiday cottage there which eventually they retired to and where they were more or less self-sufficient. “My father grew all the vegetables and their love was the west coast of Ireland. “When she was young mum was quite politically motivated and would have been a socialist trade unionist.” Amanda adds: “She liked to cook and to socialise and when she was younger she liked to dance. She did some Irish dancing and then when they got the cottage on the west coast they spent most of their weekends going down there. That was her main interest, living that sort of a life.” The couple later moved to Bangor from Sligo as Deirdre had moved to the town and they wanted to be close to their grandchildren. Sadly, Bob died 30 years ago at the age of 70 when Marie was 68. Amanda was with her mum for her birthday celebrations and says that her mum’s long life has been a happy one. “She would say she never denied herself anything, she enjoyed her life. She lived for the moment, she wasn’t a worrier, she was a pragmatist and she had the good fortune of good health. “As well as that her marriage was absolutely wonderful, her and my father were a match made in heaven. “She’s had hard times as well but she was always good at working her way through issues and not succumbing to misery, she has always had a good positive outlook. “She has an even temperament too and I never saw her lose her temper. She has also had good friends and good support. Those are all the things I would say have led to the fact that she is still on the go at 100,” says Amanda.