Celebrations, cake and smiles as Bo'ness resident turns 100

There were smiles all around last week as a Bo’ness care home resident celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 1:00 pm
Eleanor Petrie 100th birthday. Pictured with daughter, Elaine Dixon. Photo by Michael Gillen.

Eleanor Petrie, who lives at Bield’s Dean Court residential care home in the town, was treated to an afternoon of birthday celebrations thanks to her family and the team at the home.

Entertainment was provided for the outdoor celebrations by piper Leona Ryce and some members of Kinneil Band and local choir Bo’ness Belles.

As part of the special birthday celebrations, Eleanor enjoyed a slice of her favourite coffee walnut cake – something she says is the secret to longevity.

Born on April 20, 1921, Eleanor was raised in Newcastle in England with her three siblings.

She left school at 14 and went into service, working in an engineering factory as World War II loomed, before she was transferred to the Rolls Royce factory in Solihull in the West Midlands.

During her time at the factory south of the border, Eleanor helped produce engine parts to keep fighter planes flying before moving to the Navy, Army and Air Food Institutes (NAAFI) at Catterick Garrison.

The centenarian met her husband while serving for NAAFI at a social event when she was asked to dance by a “handsome, red haired young Scot” – a moment she proudly claims to be the best of her life.

At the end of the unforgettable evening the band were playing a popular song of the time, ‘Who’s Taking You Home Tonight’, and cheeky Eleanor told her new fella “you, if you like”.

Her new love Harry Petrie was posted to Africa for four years, during which time they became engaged via ‘snail mail’ and were married on New Year’s Day after he returned in 1946.

The couple went on to have two daughters and one grandchild, and were happily married for 49 years before Harry sadly passed just a few weeks short of their golden wedding anniversary.

Elaine Dixon, Eleanor’s daughter who was with her on Tuesday last week to mark the big day, said her mum has had “an adventurous life, full of happy memories”, adding “she has always said the secret to a long and happy life is a sense of humour and some coffee walnut cake.”