100th Birthday: Inspirational family matriarch celebrates with loved ones

Family-orientated Mary Garland celebrated her birthday with loved ones at the Langstone Conservative Club
Family-orientated Mary Garland celebrated her birthday with loved ones at the Langstone Conservative Club

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As the matriarch of her family, 100-year-old Mary Garland is sharp, funny, and never misses a trick.

The Portsmouth-born-and-bred centenarian, who now lives at Emsworth, is described as a total inspiration. She recently celebrated her birthday at the Langstone Conservative Club surrounded by 40 of her loved ones.

Mary’s son Tony says: ‘The celebration was absolutely brilliant. Guests came from quite a long way away – Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex. It went very well.

‘The Conservative Club was brilliant and it was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration for mother, who as a family we’ve been lucky to have.’

In 1916 Mary was born a Bass to her father William Bass in Cosham, who reported for The News immediately after the First World War.

She worked as an apprentice for Knight and Lee and qualified as a dressmaker four years later.

In 1937 Mary entered the Cosham Carnival Queen competition and won, and for a year spent her time going around the area and opening fetes and other events.

She then met her husband-to-be, Royal Navy worker George Garland, and married him on her 23rd birthday in 1939.

Mary says: ‘When the Second World War broke out we were all asked the same question: ‘What would you do if your country needed you?’’

‘Naturally I said I’d go into one of the services.’

Mary spent the first part of the war in Lambourn, Berkshire, and got a job with the US Army Air Force at Membury, in their operations staff.

She returned with George to her home in Cosham some time later. It had been badly damaged.

The couple had two children, Tony and John. George died in 1992 and today Mary is a grandmother-of-two and a great-grandmother-of-one.

Tony adds: ‘Mother has had an amazing life and travelled the world with the Royal Navy. She was responsible for packing up the family every time father went abroad.’

Among the places visited by the family was Malta, where Mary says she watched Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth holding hands in a park.

As well as working, Mary also used to do voluntary work helping to look after aged parents. She learned to play bridge and went to art school, going on to sell much of her work.

When asked the reason for her longevity, Mary says: ‘It runs in the family, my mother was 95 when she died.

‘Being busy all the time has also done me good. I’m always doing something, I can’t help myself.’

Son Tony looks up to his mother, along with many other members of his family.

He adds: ‘Mother is very independent and very positive, she also has a great sense of humour – she’s just an amazing woman.

‘She’s very sharp and can remember what she did 95 years ago, but at the same time can remember what she did yesterday, the day before, and the week, month and year before.

‘She has an amazing memory.’