Birthday family feared she may never see

Nina Knight with her five- year-old great-great- grandson Ellis-Jay Brown
Nina Knight with her five- year-old great-great- grandson Ellis-Jay Brown

THE head of a five-generation family got to experience a milestone occasion her family thought she may never see after battling back from cancer.

Ninety-year-old Nina Knight, from Hartlepool, was a very special guest at her great-great-grandson Ellis-Jay Brown’s fifth birthday party celebrations on Saturday.

Nina had suffered from mouse cancer, a benign growth the size of a golf ball which appeared on her nose, forehead and cheek and gradually got bigger.

The growth, called mouse cancer because it starts small and gets bigger as it eats away at human tissue, appeared in the summer of 2009.

Her granddaughter, Dawn Smith, 45, who is also Ellis-Jay’s grandmother and lives in Catcote Road, said: “She went really thin because she couldn’t eat with it being on her face, and if it had been left any longer it would have blinded her.

“It wasn’t a life-threatening cancer, but she got so weak we didn’t think she would pull through.

“But she has put three stone on since and is fitter than us all.”

Nina, who still lives independently in the Belle Vue area, underwent an operation in December 2009 and spent just a day at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

It took her six months to recover and now she is a picture of health.

She was at Ellis-Jay’s party, held at the Manor Residents Association Centre, in Kilmarnock Road, along with 50 other family members and friends.

These included the two other family members that make up the five generations – Ellis-Jay’s mum, Donna Smith, 28, a former mental health nurse from Kilsyth Grove, and his great-gran Carol Brown, 63, who is from Worcester Gardens, used to work in the Grand Hotel’s bar and is married to John, 65.

Dawn, who also has a son called Steven Smith, who turned 20 on Friday, said: “I’m really proud that we have five generations.

“Ellis-Jay loves his great-great-gran and loves pushing her in her wheelchair when we go on long-distance trips.

“He can’t understand why he has so many nanas when the kids at school only have one or two.

“Nina has got a memory like a 15-year-old and she still remembers all her old neighbours and when Hart Lane was bombed in the Second World War.

“She would walk from school every day to take her dad his lunch at the shipyards.”

Nina, whose son Selby Boagey died around five years ago aged 65, grew up in Stephen Street and went to Jesmond Road School.

Her parents were Alfie, a shipbuilder, and Nina and she survives three brothers and a sister.

She worked for the Stores bakery and was also a barmaid in the Belle Vue Social Club.

She married her second husband, Harold 30 years ago, but sadly he passed away around 10 years later.