Mollie Martin is a Gosport girl through and through and, as she celebrated becoming a centenarian this month, she spoke of the reason behind her longevity – her big, loving family.
The 100-year-old was joined by friends, family members and neighbours to celebrate the landmark occasion at the home she shares with her daughter Carol and son-in-law Malcolm.
He says: ‘Our home is like a hub for the family. Everyone loves nanny Mol and when they come around, the first visit is always to her.
‘It makes her so happy when they come to see her and we think it’s surely one of the reasons she’s lived to see the age of 100.’
Mollie Darling was born in 1916 to parents who were caretakers at the National Children’s Home, where she grew up.
She attended Alverstoke Village School and, after leaving, worked as a nanny and at Nobes shoe shop on Stoke Road.
She liked to walk her dogs across the fields at Gomer in the evenings.
Mollie then met her late husband, Frank Martin, on the buses.
‘Frank was a conductor when we first became friends,’ says Mollie.
‘We gradually got to know each other and married at St Mary’s Church at Alverstoke, in 1940.’
The couple had two children, Terry, 75, and Carol, 69.
Mollie is a grandmother of five and a great-grandmother of 13.
The centenarian returned to Nobes after Carol left school and spent her spare time in the garden. She can recall a time during the Second World War when she saw a plane falling out of the sky at Stokes Bay.
Carol says: ‘Dad used to say about mum, “give her a bag of dirt and she’ll be happy”.’
‘She loves to sit out in the garden even now, and she used to love reading too. But now her sight has deteriorated she listens to audio books.’
Although she’s lived in Gosport all her life, Mollie has taken some nice trips over the years, including one to America to see the Grand Canyon with her family.
Son-in-law Malcolm adds: ‘My wife and I have looked after Mollie for more than 25 years, but it’s not at all a hardship to have her here.
‘When she first came to us she did the gardening, the washing, the ironing – she’s been very good to us.’
Mollie says: ‘My family have kept me going, I couldn’t have lived alone.
‘I’m lucky to have reached the age of 100 and I’m lucky I’ve got the home I have with Carol and Malcolm.’
And what other comforts keep Mollie going? The family dog Barney and a cheeky drop of Drambuie at night.