A CENTENARIAN has reached her milestone birthday at the Ulster Hospital, surrounded by its ‘wonderful’ nurses who have made a great fuss of her and her longevity.
That was the tribute of Brenda Adair, the daughter of Rebecca Sheehan – who’s known as Ruby to her friends – who travelled all the way from Canada to spend her mum’s big birthday with her and their family in Holywood.
Sadly, Ruby was struck down by pneumonia before the festivities could take place at her Church View Mews home as planned.
Instead, family and friends dropped in to the hospital for cake and a chat with the birthday girl clutching her card from King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla.
Being born in the Irish Republic, she also received a letter from the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, plus the generous Centenary Bounty cash gift worth more than £,000.
Ruby was born on a farm in Monaghan in 1923, before coming north to find work in her late teens or early 20s.
She found work in a hospital and commenced nursing training when World War Two broke out, which derailed her plans and prompted her return home.
When the war was over her father feared for her return to Northern Ireland, but off she went and found hospital work again, this time at Antrim Hospital.
She later met her husband, Edward Sheehan, who sadly passed away 20 years ago, while working in Belfast. They set up home in Holywood.
The pair then had Brenda, (75) and Maurice, who is 66.
Ruby had four brothers and one sister and is the eldest of her siblings with only two others still surviving.
She has three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Brenda, who lives near the shores of Lake Huron, in Ontario, had come over for four weeks to spend time with her mum around her big birthday.
Unfortunately, their plans took a turn when her mum became ill with pneumonia last weekend.
She may now extend her visit beyond a month, depending on her mother’s health.
Despite her great age, Ruby fares quite well, with only the loss of the sight of one eye and some mobility issues showing for her 100 years.
Brenda attributes her mum’s longevity to living a healthy lifestyle and imbibing ‘only the odd sherry every now and again’.
Brenda said her mum has always been healthy and hopes she has acquired the older woman’s resilient DNA.
She has kept active playing bowls, locally in Holywood, with her home shelves displaying the odd trophy and shield proving her prowess in the sport.
Brenda said her mother told her about starting armchair yoga, and quipped, ‘now I’m doing chair yoga too’.
“I think I’ve got her healthy genes because at 75 I’m not on any prescribed medication so hopefully like her, I’ve got her healthy DNA,” she added.
Ruby has also kept herself busy over the years, with various groups at the Church of Ireland, on Holywood’s Church Road.
“She belongs to the ladies group and keeps herself active in Holywood in her better days when she feels better,” said Brenda.
And despite their special plans being disrupted by illness, Ruby’s special day won’t go unmarked, in hospital.
“The nurses have been making a fuss of her,” confirmed Brenda. “They really are wonderful, the nurses and the NHS. And so were the paramedics who brought her to hospital last Saturday.”