Our oldest resident, Vi Malin, turned 109 on March 23rd 2015.
Last year, on her 108th birthday, we paid her a visit to say happy birthday and have a chat.
After celebrating from her home in Hersham with family and friends, the first thing she brings to the attention of staff is her newest birthday card from the Queen, this is Vi’s fourth royal card, and one of her favourites because the Queen, “looks nice and happy”. The walls and shelves of her living room in her home are filled with birthday cards; she’s a very popular lady, with staff and residents alike.
“Everybody loves her. You feel different after you meet her. She’s so positive and finds joy in everything,” said Karen, Senior Housing Officer, who has helped Vi move into her homes with Crown Simmons Housing since she first arrived.
Mrs Malin has been with Crown Simmons Housing since she moved down to Elmbridge, from Sheffield, when she was 97 so she could be nearer her family in the South. She moved into her current home when she was 101 and is very happy.
“I am so lucky to be here. When I was first brought here, I saw the beautiful big living room and then I saw the bedroom and thought, ‘this can’t be for me!’ – it was so big!”
The scheme manager, Madeline Marshall, makes a strawberry gateaux for Tuesday Tea Parties and this is one of Vi’s favourite things about living at the sheltered scheme, along with her neighbours, especially her good friend Janet, whose own grandchildren have taken to Vi, making her a beautiful birthday card and visiting often.
The idyllic Hersham setting is a far-cry from the Sheffield that Vi spent her teenage and early adult years in; she started working when she was 14 and during the Second World War (she’s lived through two of them!) she worked in the steel works, making cutlery to be sent out to the armed forces. She was also bombed out of her home during World War Two and had to sleep in a school which didn’t have any windows because they’d all been blown-out too.
It was not all hard though; she and her late-husband enjoyed many holidays together, going to every British Isle, listing the Isle of White as her favourite. She went on an aeroplane for the first time at 87 to visit family in Canada, saying of the 13-hour flight to Vancouver, “people were amazed when I told them my age!”
Vi also loves football, having been an avid Sheffield Wednesday fan for 82 years, and watching the snooker and Eggheads on TV.
This active life and positive spirit no doubt lend themselves to Vi’s vivacity, but when asked what her secret to keeping young was, she said, “good air.”