Northfield's Beatie celebrates her 100th birthday

By Tristan Harris Wednesday 09 July 2014 Updated: 09/07 01:50

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Buy photos » Beatie Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2814022MMR

A NORTHFIELD woman has celebrated her 100th birthday with a party fit for a queen.

Beatie Johnson marked the marvellous milestone at The Beeches residential care home on Sunday (July 6), surrounded by her family and staff, and received her telegram from Her Majesty.

The home was decorated with life-size cardboard cut outs of the royal family, whom Beatie adores, and staff wore 1950s attire.

She was born on the doorstep of her parents' home in 1914 after her mum Alice unexpectedly went into labour.

She had a tough childhood - her mother had tuberculosis and spent a lot of time in hospital.

The family lived at Allens Farm, just a few hundred yards from The Beeches, where the centenarian has lived for two years.

Alice died when Beatie was just nine and she and her younger sister Nellie were brought up by different sets of grandparents.

Beatie lived with her paternal grandparents John and Esther, whom she was incredibly close to – especially her grandfather who spoilt her. The girls’ father John remarried and they gained a half-sister, Freda.

At 14, Beatie worked at Harborne’s Chad Valley factory, making Christmas crackers and painting toys and, in May 1940 she got married to Geoff Obrey, who she had grown up with.

During the war they miraculously survived a bomb blast on their Hubert Road home.

Son David, who was born in August 1941, said: “They were in the shelter in the garden and a bomb landed three houses away.

"It destroyed those houses and blew the roof and windows off ours.”

Six months later Geoff was called up for army service, spending years away from the family while he served in India and the Far East.

Sadly the couple’s second son Clive was born prematurely in 1944 and died at just four days old.

After Geoff died in 1979, Beatie found happiness again, marrying childhood friend Leslie Johnson and gaining a stepson Roy.

David said: “They had a very happy marriage – the 15 years she spent with Leslie were the best years of her life.

"They idolised each other.”

Describing his mother and his childhood he added: “I went everywhere with her and we were very close.

"She was very, very protective and I couldn’t have asked for a mother that was more caring and loving."

He added many parts of her life had been quite sad but, being a very determined and strong-willed character, she coped with them all very well.

The grandmother of eight and great grandmother of 18 has gone to church regularly since the age of nine and puts the secret to her longevity down to her 'faith, hard work and good English food'.

The home’s manager Bryan O’Connor said: “Beatie is a lovely lady who has had a very interesting life and it has been an absolute pleasure organising her birthday party for her.”

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