A woman who survived two world wars and lived through two pandemics has celebrated her 106th birthday by beating COVID-19.
Mary Nicholson, from St Helen’s, Merseyside, said the secret to living a long life is drinking full-fat milk, eating cream and butter, and enjoying a “tipple of whiskey at night”.
Despite testing positive for coronavirus on New Year’s Eve, the centenarian said she felt “healthier than ever” after overcoming the the illness in time to enjoy her birthday on Tuesday 12 January.
The “fiercely independent” Nicholson, who is nicknamed Polly and never married or had children, was thrilled to come out of isolation and find so many cards and presents waiting for her.
Staff at the Elizabeth Court Care Home sang her a birthday song and presented her with a cake to celebrate her big day.
“It’s a big birthday, it’s a big one, 106,” Nicholson said.
“I’ve been fantastic, and I’m happy and enjoying myself. Earlier on I had a cough but I’m feeling better.
“I can’t tell you how lovely my birthday has been.
“It’s nice to be able to celebrate after being in isolation because of the virus. But I’m feeling good.”
Sadly, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Nicholson was unable to see her family, but said she was looking forward to celebrating with them once “all this COVID is done”.
“I love them all to bits and they mean the world to me,” she said. “I wish they could be with me here today.”
She was born on 12 January, 1915, just after the First World War broke out, and her mum died of diabetes five years later.
Her dad had enlisted in the war as a medic and was gassed. After returning home, he remained very ill and died a short time later.
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Nicholson’s niece Jean Humphreys, 68, from Warrington, said she’s always been inspired by her aunt, who she describes as “fiercely independent, but also funny and loving”.
“She didn’t have an easy life,” Humphreys said. “She lost her mum and dad so young and went through the wars.
“But she persevered and worked hard and she inspires me every day.
“She lived in her home until she was 102. She lived on her own, she was fiercely independent.
“She used to go shopping for the old lady a few doors down.
“She used to say she was an old woman who needed help.”
After Nicholson tested positive with coronavirus, Humphreys was scared because her aunt was in an at-risk age group.
“It was so scary to hear that at her age,” Humphreys said.
“We’ve not been able to see her at all as she’s been isolated, but now she’s out of isolation and recovered.
“It’s the most wonderful birthday present we could’ve asked for that she’s fit.
“She looks amazing, you wouldn’t be able to tell she was ever sick.”
The family plan on a belated party in summer if coronavirus restrictions are eased.
Though they say they found it difficult knowing what to buy a 106-year-old as a present, they settled on some new bedding and some baskets of flowers.
“We also made her a hamper with her favourite sweets – liquorice and blackcurrants, sherbert lemons, mint imperials and Werther’s Originals,” Humphreys said.
“I think she had a lovely day – she’s so happy to be out of isolation.”
Additional reporting SWNS