Amazing Mary celebrates 100th birthday in locked-down Milton Keynes care home

A woman who worked in John Lewis until she was 70 has celebrated her 100th birthday behind closed doors in her care home.

By Sally Murrer
Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 1:18 pm

The family of Mary Peak had planned a huge celebration, but sadly were not allowed to even catch a glimpse of her on her special day.

Staff at Ashby House in Eaglestone organised their own celebration for Mary, who was one of the first new residents to come to the newly-built Milton Keynes in 1975.

Born in Greenock, Scotland, she was the third child in a family of 11. She started work at 14 years of age at the Glen Mill Port Glasgow, working 40 hours a week for just over two shillings.

Mary celebrated with care home staff

During the war Mary still tried to provide for her family, finding work with the local council as a gas lamp lighter in west end tenements.

She bought and made candy apples and sold them from the living room window and also taught herself to sew, later becoming an accomplished dress maker.

In 1975, at the age of 55, Mary started a new episode in her life and upped and moved with son James Peak to Milton Keynes.

"She qualified as a key worker for the new city of Milton Keynes. And she got her first ever brand-new house, in Myrtle Bank Stacey Bushes," said James.

Mary pictured at her confirmation in 1930

The hard-working mum soon found employment as production supervisor in a slipper factory before moving to a job with John Lewis, where she worked within the restaurant.

She retired from work aged 70 and was completely independent until the last couple of years, said James.

Mary had five children - Mary, Alex, Wilma, Jackie and James - as well as 14 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

James said: "We had big plans to celebrate her 100th year with family coming from Scotland, Sweden and Australia.

"But Ashby House remains in lockdown and none of us could get to see her. Barchester, who run the home, were insistent that we couldn't even enter the garden and talk to her through the open door," said her son James Peak.

"I understand their reason as they were infected with Covid-19.... It is sad for mum and my family, but rules are rules and we as a family will abide," he added.

Family is very important to mum and it saddens me that we all missed her special day as not many people reach 100 years young."