102-year-old Eileen is ‘like a cat with nine lives’

Eileen Walker who turns 102  years old at Willow Park Care Home in Pontefract (with daughter and son-in-law Marilyn and Tony Pettit). Picture Scott Merrylees
Eileen Walker who turns 102 years old at Willow Park Care Home in Pontefract (with daughter and son-in-law Marilyn and Tony Pettit). Picture Scott Merrylees

A woman who has been described by her family as being ‘like a cat with nine lives’ has celebrated her 102nd birthday.

Eileen Walker, who is a resident in Willow Park Care home in Pontefract, marked her special day with a buffet and cake surrounded by her family, some of which had travelled up from Gloucester for the event.

Her daughter, Marilyn Pettit said: “We often talk about her being like a cat with nine lives because if she is ill or if she has a fall, she just bounces back every time!

“She is nearly blind because of macular degeneration but she is always positive and happy, and she doesn’t take any medication at all. She is very tough, strong and determined.”

A spokesperson for the care home added: “Eileen is always happy and joins in when she can, although she still likes her own space.”

Born in Coventry in 1917, Eileen’s family moved to Leeds when she was in her teens.

After leaving school she worked in a factory making lenses for theatre binoculars until she married her first husband, Arthur Lesley Abbott and they had two children. They lived in Sherburn in Elmet.

After Arthur’s death at the age of 58, she eventually went on to marry Bert Walker, who had been the best man at her first wedding and whose wife had also passed away.

They lived in Australia for four years before returning to Britain. Sadly, Bert passed away at the age of 80.

But with her six great grandchildren, and four great, great grandchildren, Eileen just keeps going.

Marilyn added: “I think her secret is to be positive, and having good family support.”

Looking back at 1917

In March 1917, at the time Eileen Walker made her way into the world, the First World War was now in its third year with still no sign of victory.

It would only be another month before the Americans joined the fight.

But around the world there were other events making the headlines, including the Russian revolution. In the days before Eileen was born, there were huge protests against Tsar Nicholas II who soon abdicated.

Inventions in that year included rubber-soled trainers and hamburger buns while Coca Cola introduced its drink formula that still sells today.