Harrogate woman celebrates 108th birthday

Thought to be Harrogate’s oldest resident, Dorothy Flowers celebrated her 108th birthday in style today, Tuesday.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:16 am
Dorothy Flowers celebrates her 108th birthday in style at Southlands Care Home, Harrogate.

This is what panto at Harrogate Theatre will be like this yearA resident at Southlands Care Home on Ripon Road, she enjoyed a week of festivities to see in the monumental milestone.

Staff at the home launched an appeal earlier this month to get 108 cards to Dorothy in time for her birthday, a target which has been surpassed on a huge scale. She has now received more than 500 cards from all over the world, including ones from Las Vegas and Dubai, as well as from local schools and businesses.

She has also been sent an abundance of gifts from Bettys, with a fitting note reading “from one centenarian to another”, Slingsby Gin and multiple bottles of the finest champagne.

And on the morning of her birthday, she was greeted by a bouquet of flowers from Harrogate Borough Council and a balloon display kindly donated by Party Fever in the town centre.

Susan Sowden, Home Manager at Southlands, said: “Dorothy is so special to us. It is a great honour and privilege that we get to look after her. She is a very special resident and she is loved by so many people.”

Dorothy spent the week with various visitors, including the Mayor and Mayoress of the Borough of Harrogate.

Coun Stuart Martin, Mayor, said: “It was a complete surprise visit and we gave her a card and some flowers. She was so happy, it was lovely to see.”

And as Dorothy has a reputation as a woman who likes the finer things in life, it was no surprise that her face lit up when the Mayoress let her wear her chain for a photograph.

Coun Martin said: “She was delighted with the Mayoress’ chain. We struggled to get it back from her. She loves jewellery and sparkly things.”

As well as a taste for expensive jewellery and top-class champagne, Dorothy has always been a very independent woman who knows what she wants.

Harrogate solicitors fear 'damage' to rental sector under government proposalsSusan Sowden said: “She’s a very feisty lady and that’s why we love her. She has always got what she’s wanted and I think that’s how she’s managed to get to this stage of life. She really has lived the high life and that’s why she’s got a taste for these things.”

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Dorothy - who lived independently until she was 104-years-old.

She was born at the New Inn pub in Headingley on October 22, 1911. She lived there with her parents, who worked as publicans, until she began working for the Racecourse Betting Control Board as an accountant.

Dorothy met her husband Leonard whilst working at the Control Board. They lived in London through the Second World War, before moving to New Malden in Surrey and later retiring to Paignton.

Her niece, Judith Barrett, said she still remembers being told how Dorothy survived after a bomb struck the hotel in London where she was staying. While she was able to escape, other nearby rooms were left badly damaged.

After Leonard’s death she moved to Harrogate 26 years ago, to be closer to her family in Yorkshire.

She continued to live independently in her apartment on Wetherby Road, until 2015. when she moved to Southlands Care Home.

Staff at Southlands said that Dorothy loves to be surrounded by people, and her birthday was no different.

The care home held an ‘open house’ for the day, with lots of visitors calling in to give birthday wishes, drop off cards and presents and snap a picture with Dorothy.

The staff opened cards with her throughout the day, and provided nibbles and prosecco.

Bonfire Night 2019: Fireworks events and displays across the Harrogate districtThey also started a birthday book for Dorothy, so visitors could leave a heartfelt message for her to look back on.