Irene’s still tinkling the ivories at 103

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SPRIGHTLY Irene Wilson is today celebrating her 103rd birthday and the musical pensioner still loves to sing and tinkle the old ivories.

The great-grandmother loves to sing in church and Irene never misses the weekly service at methodist churches in Greatham and Seaton Carew – whatever the weather.

Her loving family and church leaders have today paid tribute to the dedication shown by Irene, who often leads the singing in church and still loves to relax at home playing the piano.

The mum-of-one qualified as a minister in the Independent Methodist Church when she was 18 and has worked in many churches throughout the North-East.

Irene, who was today celebrating with her family, said: “I have always tried to live well, I’ve never smoked or touched a drop of alcohol and I have always had a good God looking over me.

“Despite reaching 103, I feel the same really, just a little older.

“I love going to church, they make a big fuss of me, and I enjoy singing and playing the piano at home.”

Irene said she loves all hymns but named And Can It Be as her favourite

The centenarian is a member of the Independent Methodist Church in Greatham Village and also attends Sunday services at Seaton Carew Methodist Church despite her advancing years.

Irene, a mum, grandmum-of-two and great grandmum-of-five still gets around the town on her own with weekly trips to the market and to meet friends for lunch and coffee.

Despite reaching her 103rd birthday, Irene has no intentions of stopping what she loves doing.

Irene, who lives in Seaton Carew, said her relationship with God has helped her immensely throughout her long and happy life.

Born in Shildon on August 31, 1910, Irene moved to Seaton Carew when her husband, Jack, got a job as the registrar for births, deaths and marriages in Hartlepool. Jack died 28 years ago.

Her only daughter, Valerie Stewart, 69, who is married to Malcolm, added: “Mum loves to go to church every Sunday but she also enjoys meeting up with her friends at the library and going for coffee.

“We can’t keep her in.”

Joy Oram, senior steward at Seaton Carew Methodist Church, said: “Irene is absolutely wonderful and comes to Church in all weathers.

“She is a lovely singer and often leads the singing when we don’t have a pianist.”