Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Leap year Darlington gran, 26, celebrates 105th year of life
A NORTH-EAST grandmother has celebrated 105 years of life, but a quirk of the calendar means her next actual birthday will only be her 27th.
Gwendoline Darwin, of Darlington, was born on February 29, 1908, meaning she has technically only had 26 birthdays during her long life.
Family, friends and former neighbours gathered for a party at The Lawns care home, in Ridsdale Street, on Saturday.
Son-in-law Andrew Cooke said Mrs Darwin had enjoyed a long and healthy life despite a fondness for chocolate éclairs and eating “all the wrong sorts of foods”.
He is the widower of Mary Cooke, the only daughter of Mrs Darwin and her late husband, John. She died in 2002, aged 59.
Mr Darwin died in 1989.
Mr Cooke travelled from Winchester, in Hampshire, for Saturday’s party, while Mrs Darwin’s granddaughters, Sarah and Debbie, aged 38 and 41 respectively, were also in attendance.
Sarah had flown in from Bangladesh, where she works for the Department for International Development.
Another party guest had travelled from Canada, said Mr Cooke.
His mother-in-law, who received a card from the Queen marking her 105th year, moved to Darlington from Wakefield in 1950.
Mr Cooke said: “The party was fun, we had 12 guests and they were all former neighbours or family.
“Gwendoline has a good sense of humour, you often see stories in the paper when a care home closes and the family members say ‘if you move my mother it will kill her’.
“When that happened to Gwendoline, when a previous care home she was in, Hundens Park, closed three years ago, we told her she had to move.
“She said it would not make a difference to her, as long as the new place had a bed, a chair and a television.”
Mrs Darwin has lived at The Lawns for two-and-a-half years and is popular with staff at the home.
Mr Cooke added: “A few years ago, when she was 98, I took her to Morrisons and asked if she was going to push the trolley or whether she wanted a ride.
“She replied that she was finding it increasingly difficult to climb in the trolleys.”