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101-year-old Iris jet sets into Lady Dane

Iris has had a long life full of love, heartache and healing. She currently resides at Lady Dane Farmhouse. Karen Jeal is the charity’s Fundraising, Marketing and PR Manager and recently met up with her to learn about her life and how she’s got to 101 years.

At the grand old age of 101, Iris is still full of life and has many a story to tell, and as Strode Park’s oldest resident she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Iris has been at Lady Dane Farmhouse in Faversham since 12 February this year and celebrated her 101st birthday with her fellow residents and carers at the home.

Her son Danny also lives at Lady Dane and is being looked after there too.

Iris said: “I just couldn’t bear to be apart from him. We’ve both been through a lot and came here together. It’s going to take him time to settle but everyone is so kind here, it’s all one-to-one care and we’re never left. I’d do anything for my Danny, whatever it costs I’d pay it. Danny is safe here. I came here for comfort, peace of mind and no-one in my face and that’s what I get and that’s what I love. I’ve been really impressed with this place. People act like people. This place saved my sanity, I came with nothing. I gave everything away in my old home – to the last fork.”

Iris starts to digress and reminisce about ‘the olden days’. She smiles fondly: “I was the last of 10 children. I was born in Hackney – 330 Wick Road,” she recalls. “My dad was exemplary. My mum died when I was just eight and he promised me at the time that he’d look after me. We had everything – a lovely home, made to measure clothes – we just had it all.”

Iris remembers when she met her husband too. “Joseph Harvey was his name and he was a Docker. We got married on 8 April 1939 and less than four months later he was called to war. He got a letter and that night he was gone. And he was gone for a long time. It was about 6 years and 3 months. And that amount of time away from each other alters your life. I was only 21 when he went and I was 28 when he came back and we were different people.”

Iris and Joseph had four children together, although sadly she has lost touch with all of them except Danny. She added: “Danny talked of his dad with great affection, he really did love him.”

She talks about her job in the Post Office. “I took the exam and I passed. I was doing the wages there, up in London. We didn’t move to Kent until 2007.”

And the way Iris talks about Danny they really are the very best of friends. And over the years they have been quite the jetsetters. She asks me to pass her handbag up and she pulls out of an old wallet lists upon lists of old bits of paper that has noted down every single holiday they’ve ever been on together, the dates and also the length of their stay.

They have been all over the world. “We always went just the two of us,” she remembers. “Hollywood, Las Vegas, Butlins you name it we’ve been there. Danny is a perfect traveller. He knows everything to do with going away.”

And when asked her secret to a long and happy life she replied: “A simple diet. I don’t eat red meat. I’m a meat and two veg girl. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, I don’t have sex – I don’t want it. I just have a simple life. Plain living.”

She went on to add: “And I’ll tell you something. I’ve never had a burger in my life. I respect my body. And up until only three years ago I took my first aspirin. I’ve never been one to take pills.”

Lady Dane Farmhouse is a beautiful 15 bedded home set in the Kent countryside on the outskirts of the historic town of Faversham.  The home welcomes adults with mixed disabilities who need long or short term residential care.

All our team have specialist skills and knowledge in working with people with disabilities and are dedicated to ensuring that residents are supported to live as independently as possible in a fun and nurturing environment.