105th birthday: Gosport pensioner's secret to old age is 'singing, banter and Famous Grouse whisky'
It’s undeniable that Peggy Dineen’s spirit is first-rate.
On her 105th birthday, Peggy’s wicked sense of humour still shone through as she announced that because she was wearing a chequered blanket on her knees that must mean she’s ‘Scottish’.
On December 23, Merlin Park staff held a special celebration for Peggy and their 22 residents with party food, sing-a-longs, and a surprise cake designed with Peggy in mind.
The home’s chef went the extra mile to give the birthday girl a token of their love through a cake decorated in a huge pink flower as ‘Peg loves florals’.
Deputy manager Carly Godwin says: ‘Peggy is a very generous lady.
‘She’ll even sit at the table sometimes and try to help other residents when they’re struggling.’
And her caring nature to look after others has been true since she was a little girl.
The eldest out of her siblings, Peggy helped her mother bring up the other children – and ever since ‘her whole life has revolved around her children and family,’ says Carly.
Peggy was born at her parent’s fruit and veg shop in 1916 at Gosport. Her mother, a shopkeeper and her father a greengrocer.
As a young woman she worked with dresses before moving to London to work for Lady McMahon as a servant.
It was in London that she met her late husband, Michael Dineen, who served in the army with the Royal Engineers.
It was love at first sight.
The pair tied the knot at Holy Trinity Church, Gosport, and went on to have four children – Anne, Jane, Michael and Peter.
Peggy now has eight grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and about 10 great-great grandchildren.
Some family members joined Peggy before her party started, as coronavirus restrictions meant they could only stay for a limited time.
But the easy-going pensioner made the most of it, confident she would celebrate another year with a whisky in hand.
Carly says: ‘Peggy will still have the odd whisky now. She’ll always say whisky got her to 105.
‘She likes Famous Grouse. That’s her whisky.
‘It’s her secret. As well as singing, dancing and having banter – that’s what we always do.’
What she is adamant on though, is that she did not like to play sports in her youth. But she does still keep her mind active, as well as listening to some of her favourite singers like Vera Lynn and Frank Sinatra.
Although more frail now, Peggy still comes down to join the other residents, particularly when the activity coordinator hosts entertainment.
Carly says: ‘She loves dancing. She's more limited now but she'll still dance away in her chair - whereas we used to stand up and dance everywhere.’ Peggy cheekily sniggers at this remark.
‘When the entertainer came she’d be dancing the whole time!’
For Peggy, the most important lesson she’s learnt in life is to always love other people as she likes to feel loved.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.