There must be something in the water in Hetton-le-Hole as you will see from centenarian Elsie Colwill’s youthful appearance.
Elsie celebrated her 100th birthday in January and as well as getting a card from The Queen, she also received flowers hand delivered by our Chief Executive Paul Mullis.
On the day of her birthday, Elsie may as well have been royalty because people were queuing outside her aged miners’ bungalow to pay their respects to this remarkable lady, who took it all her in stride.
Elsie has lived in the area all her life.
Married to Harrison for 46 years before his death in 2001, she had several grandchildren and great grandchildren, and even one great great-grandchild.
The couple were married immediately after the war, Harrison having served with bravery and distinction throughout almost the entire conflict, from Dunkirk through to D-Day.
Wounded by a shelf which badly damaged his arm, Harrison returned to the Pit after the war and Elsie says they had a lovely life together, including going on foreign holidays to places like Benidorm which was just a small village at the time.
Elsie also did her service during war, although she jokes to have slightly having been press-ganged into it.
She explains: “My friends were trying to get me to play knocky 9 doors which involved knocking on people’s doors and running away, and they were caught by the local policeman.
“He saw that we were not carrying our gas masks so we were in trouble so he said I can tell your parents or you can sign up to help the war effort, so I did. I started as a telephonist and ended up working in the quartermasters’ stores which was great because there was always something left which I could take home.”
When asked for the secret of the success of her longevity, Elsie jokes: “A bit of Baileys Irish Cream in my coffee each morning is just the tonic.”
So, in Elsie’s case, it not just something in the water which is the key to her youthful appearance!