MARGARET France was given just days to live when she was born on November 14, 1911.
But despite her precarious start in life and against all the odds, she survived to celebrate her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends.
Margaret and her husband Fred were caretakers at Rastrick library for 25 years and she attributes her long life to hard work and the loving company of her family. She has two daughters, Margaret and Joan, four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. “We lived in a house next to the library and I had to get in early to stoke up the boilers before it opened. I used to polish the floors and clean the windows - it was hard work but I loved it and we always felt we were part of the community,” said Margaret, who recently moved into Rastrick Hall residential home, Close Lea Avenue.
Until a few months ago she looked after herself and did her own cooking and cleaning.
“When she first moved into Rastrick Hall she used to give the chef tips on how to cook,” said Margaret’s daughter, Joan Haley.
Margaret was born and brought up in Thornhill Road, Rastrick, one of four girls. After a difficult and prolonged labour, her mother was warned that her new baby daughter would probably not survive more than a couple of days. But survive she did, later attending Longroyde School. She left at 14 to work in a textile mill.
Margaret and Fred moved to Field Lane in 1970 when they left Rastrick library and Fred died four years later. Margaret is a member of St Matthew’s Church, Rastrick, and until last year she attended services regularly.
Margaret Norcliffe said: “We all think mum’s an amazing lady. She’s the matriarch of the family and we all look up to her. She’s always very interested in things and she’s always seen a lot of her grandchildren and great-children.”
Friends and family visited Margaret at Rastrick Hall on her birthday and her grand-daughter Kathryn Strong made and decorated a birthday cake. Cards and good wishes were received from the Queen and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith.
“It’s all a bit overwhelming,” said Margaret. “I don’t know how I’ve made it to 100 - but somehow I have.”