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Olive Swanston Finlay Celebrates her 109th birthday with family at The Manor House in Whickham

Olive Swanston Finlay, who is believed to be the oldest person in the North East, celebrated her 109th birthday on Tuesday 3 August at The Manor House in Whickham.

Olive was born in Newcastle in 1912, ‘the year they sank the Titanic’ as she often points out. The second oldest in a family of five children, Olive’s father died when she was only eight years old leaving her mother to raise them alone.

While working for her uncle in his Newcastle café she met her future husband James Finlay, who was known to all as Jimmy, but to Olive he was always Gee, a nickname he acquired during his Army service due to his ginger hair.

Jimmy and Olive married in August 1936 and settled in Wallsend where Jimmy was a miner at the Rising Sun colliery. They had three daughters, Sheila, Beryl and Karen and also raised two of Olive’s nephews, Ronny and Colin. They were happily married for 55 years until Jimmy’s death in 1991.

Olive has nine grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. She lived with her daughter Karen and her husband Dave before moving to The Manor House in June 2020.

Olive puts the secret of her long life down to gin and tonic. As she’s often said: “If it’s good enough for the Queen Mother…it’s good enough for me.”

She celebrated her momentous birthday with a party at The Manor House, with family and friends and being entertained by a guest singer. A 109th birthday card from The Queen was the icing on the cake for Olive’s extra special day.  

A member of Olive’s family paid tribute to her saying: “After an incredibly difficult year due to the COVID virus, we are as a family more than ever thankful to still have this amazing much-loved lady in our lives knowing only too well that many others have not been so fortunate.

“We are all absolutely delighted to once again be able to join together and celebrate yet another momentous milestone birthday with her and have all of you share it with us.

Jane Tworkowski, home manager at The Manor House Whickham, said: “It was such a joy to celebrate with Olive and her family. To reach 109 is amazing, and we are so proud to have Olive as one of our family and will pull out all the stops to give her a day to remember.”


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