THE family of an Aycliffe Angel turning 106 this month, believed to be the oldest woman in Darlington, is appealing for 106 cards to mark the birthday as lockdown prevents other plans.
Wilton House resident Renee Glover, an Aycliffe Angel born two months before the First World War started in 1914 and the daughter of a local policeman, is turning 106 on June 21.
Last year, when Mrs Glover received her second birthday message from the Queen for turning 105, – the first being when she turned 100 – a party had been planned then cancelled as she took ill.
Now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, much of the woman’s five-generation family cannot celebrate this year either, and instead are appealing to the public for 106 birthday cards.
Mrs Glover, whose family describe her as strong and full of life, had hip surgery at 105 and is back walking, against odds. She invited her surgeon to the party that year and also received flowers from the mayor of Darlington.
“She loves attention and a fuss,” granddaughter Alison Skilbeck, daughter of Mrs Glover’s only child Judith, said.
“They call her the Queen in the care home.”
Ms Skilbeck, 48, describes her nana, who still loves having her nails and make up done, as strong-willed.
During the Second World War, Mrs Glover was an Inspector at the Royal Ordinance Factory in Newton Aycliffe, which made bombs and other munitions.
Ms Skilbeck’s sister, 50-year-old Sarah Renwick, recalling her nana’s stories from this time, said: “It really was her part in the war effort, in the bomb making factory. She says her fingers were tainted yellow.
“She was a supervisor and experienced some real backlash from the men that worked there – it was a different time.
“When someone swore at her, her husband wanted to go down and sort him out, but she said she could deal with it.”
Husband Edwin – Eddie – Glover died when Mrs Glover was in her 50s and she went on to look after her own father and move in with her daughter.
“Nana lived with us so we were very close, closer than most.” Ms Renwick added.
The sisters remember their nana’s love for caravan holidays, especially in Berwick-upon-Tweed and the drive through Northumberland – “she still talks about them now”.
“She loves the sun, we’d always find her in the garden, and was still coming out for coffee with me once or twice a week until she was 103, when she had a few falls,” Ms Renwick added.
“Nana wasn’t amazing, but she is amazing to us.”
As well as watching “rubbish soaps” with their nana, who at the time loved to sing, the young girls also attended a lunch club during the school holidays.
Mrs Glover and her older sister Nancy set up the first luncheon club in Darlington with Age Concern, now Age UK, which she ran every Wednesday until she her late 80s.
Despite Covid-19, the “strong and inspirational” woman, who also loves baking, will not miss out on a birthday cake this year, with her graddaughters planning a socially distanced, weather-permitting, garden party.
The sisters praised Wilton House care home who have allowed them to see their nana, who is family-orientated, for chats through the window.
Ms Skilbeck has written to the Prime Minister with a similar sentiment, while hoping he will send a birthday card too.
Emma Hardy, care home manager at Wilton House said: “Renee is absolutely amazing, everyone who meets her falls in love with her. She’s so easy to talk to and whether young or old, everyone gets along with her. She has a wonderful sense of humour.
“She was an Aycliffe Angel at the ammunitions factory during the war, and was quite a formidable supervisor on the production line.
“Her birthday on June 21 will see her turn 106 and we will make it special, despite all the social distancing protections we have put in place. We hope the weather will allow us to have a garden party with balloons, banners and cake, and her family can visit her safely from a two metre distance.”
Mrs Glover has been at Wilton House for four years. There have been some Covid-19-related deaths but the 105-year-old previously tested negative, and there have been no positive cases for three weeks.
All cards should be sent to Renee Glover, Wilton House Care Home, Wilton Close, Darlington, DL3 9RE.