Staff help Rena celebrate 100th birthday in style
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
STAFF at The Manor House, in Barnard Castle, pulled out all the stops last week to ensure it was a day to remember for Rena Allen when she celebrated her 100th birthday.
Mrs Allen enjoyed catching up with her family in Australia, New Zealand and America using Zoom, before being treated by staff to a sumptuous strawberry themed feast prepared by Annie French-Boynton, complete with a three-tiered birthday cake. Mrs Allen (nee Lawrie) was born in Perth, Scotland, on July 1, 1921, and went to school at Harrow Weald, in Middlesex, where she became good friends with Merlyn Rees who became a minister in successive Labour governments.
After leaving school and on the outbreak of the Second World War she trained as nurse working in hospitals in a London and the south east.
In the late 1940s she travelled overseas to work as a nurse in Malaya and met her future husband Bill Allen, a geologist and soil scientist.
They married in Jesselton, North Borneo, in 1953 and had three children, William, Robert and Jennifer.
Son Bill Allen, who now lives in Western Australia, said: “Mum continued her work as a community nurse until 1980 in what became Malaysia, then in Fiji for three years and Brunei.
“She was also involved in school teaching for a time as well. But she was always fiercely proud of her Scottish heritage even though she left the country.”
It was while on leave in 1962 they couple fell in love with Teesdale, hiring a cottage in Romaldkirk.
They bought land behind the Rose and Crown, in Romaldkirk, a year later and built a home, Raintree Cottage, settling in after they retired in 1982.
They moved to a smaller property in Cotherstone in 2004. After the death of her husband in 2011, Mrs Allen moved to Abbeyfield, in Barnard Castle, before becoming a resident at The Manor House three years ago.
“They had many close friends in Teesdale and enjoyed a very happy time there,” Mr Allen added. “Mum has been superbly looked after and Barnard Castle can be proud of these superb care facilities and their wonderful staff.”
As well as receiving a card from the Queen, Mrs Allen, who enjoys listening to music and keeping up to date with the news, also received a large handmade card created by other residents. Sharon Harrison, deputy manager at the Manor House, said: “It’s nice to get some normality back and have something positive to celebrate.
“Things have slowly been releasing and we have been doing visits in the garden and we now have a specially designated room indoors as well.”