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Islander Doreen celebrates 100th birthday

St Mary's resident Doreen Matthews celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday.

Born on the islands, she was the oldest of four children, with sisters Kathleen and Lorna and brother Freddie.

After leaving school, Doreen went to work for Rodney Ward looking after his children. ("She used to bathe Barneslie Ward," says her son Ivor). She also spent many years tying flowers for the Wards and at Longstone.

In the mid-1930s, she married Bill Matthews, who worked on the quay, giving birth to son Ivor in 1938. In 1939, Bill went off to war in India, where he remained for the next five years.

Doreen worked at Tregarthen's until she was 65, chambermaiding and ironing, before heading to Anjeric, where she continued ironing for Neil Hedges until she was in her eighties. "She was very good at ironing shirts!" remembers her niece Jenny Byers.

Ivor said of his mum: "She's a very private person. When father was around they did everything together, one never went anywhere without the other. She used to like a drink on a weekend down the Mermaid with him and Bill Guy and all that crowd."

Doreen's beloved husband Bill died in 1999, within two months of the deaths of her brother Freddie, sister and sister-in-law.

Doreen had a hip operation 12 months ago "which didn't work very well" and is now in Park House.

Ivor praised the staff at the care home, saying: "They were fantastic yesterday. She had a lovely cake and a proper spread, I didn't expect that. The rest of the people in there will be able to have what was left. They really looked after her."

Her telegram from the Queen is now proudly on display in her bedroom.

Asked if his mum has a secret for a long life, Ivor said: "I don't think so. She used to smoke, she used to like her pints of beer. She would go to the Mermaid with the men and drink half pints. She always paid her round and in the end she got fed up and thought if I have to buy them pints I'm going to drink pints too!"

Thanks to Jenny Byers for the photos.

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