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Durham supercentenarian celebrates 110th birthday - but doesn't want any fuss
ONE of Britain’s oldest women today (Monday, December 9) celebrated her 110th birthday – and didn’t want any fuss.
Margaret Todd Smith, who is also believed to the oldest person in the North-East, marked the occasion with family and members of staff at Belmont Grange Care Home in Belmont, Durham City.
Born in the year of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight, the former teacher marvelled at space travel and always kept abreast with world affairs.
Nephew Robin Parkinson said: “She is a fantastic person.
“It is difficult to communicate with her now as she is hard of hearing, but I know she would want any fuss made over her.”
Mrs Smith was born in Ushaw Moor, near Durham City - one of six children of a village butcher.
She trained as a teacher at St Hilda’s College in Durham before deciding to take part in government-sponsored scheme to populate the prairies of Canada.
Mr Parkinson, said Mrs Smith and her friend travelled to the province of Saskatchewan, settling in Saskatoon.
She taught primary school children and initially travelled to school in a horse and trap.
In 1934 she married farmer Thomas Archibald Smith, who had a large cereal farm.
Mr Parkinson said: “She had a fantastic life. She used to describe going out on horseback to take food to the workers on the farm.”
The couple retired to Vancouver and travelled extensively across the United States.
Mrs Smith moved back the UK following the death of her husband, living initially with her sister in Newcastle.
Mr Parkinson said: “She is a lady who has always been straight talking.
“If she didn’t like something she said it. She used to watch TV and would always say “you couldn’t do anything like that in my day”.
“During her life she has seen everything from the birth of flight to space travel. She always stayed-up-to date with current affairs and had strong opinions.”
Mrs Smith lived independently until she had a fall several years ago.
Nurse Doreen McLachland: “She is wonderful and the staff all love her. She has a fantastic appetite and enjoys her meals.
“She always enjoys it when the children from Durham's Chorister School come to sing for them at Christmas. Her face just lights up. The children just love her too.”
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