Redding 100-year-old insists a sense of humour is key to a happy life

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A centenarian swears by seeing the funny side of life and having a healthy diet as being key in her reaching her three-figure age.

The family and friends of Kathleen Cunningham had double cause for celebration on January 1 as they marked the beginning of a new decade and the Redding resident turning 100.

100-year-old Kathleen Cunningham pictured with her son in law, Gordon McKenzie; daughter, Jill McKenzie; daughter, Pamela Dick; and son in law, Raymond Dick.

100-year-old Kathleen Cunningham pictured with her son in law, Gordon McKenzie; daughter, Jill McKenzie; daughter, Pamela Dick; and son in law, Raymond Dick.

Surrounded by her relatives, including daughters Jill McKenzie (63) and Pamela Dick (72), Kathleen was treated to a birthday lunch, during which she was more than happy to impart her secret to a long and happy life.

The celebrations continued last Friday at Ion Enablement Centre in Maddiston where Kathleen visits twice a week as staff threw a belated party for the birthday girl, accompanied by the vocal talent of The Bo’ness Belles.

Though she has called Redding home for several decades, Kathleen is originally from Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

After the completion of her studies, she secured a job within Marks & Spencer before being drafted in to operate the phone systems for the fire service during the Second World War.

It was during the war that she met her future husband and the father of her children, Thomas, an army soldier who had stopped over in Clacton-on-Sea on a visit.

The couple married in 1942 and moved to Thomas’ childhood home village of Redding, initially to Kirkwood Avenue, followed by a stint in Wholequarter Avenue and finally Overton Crescent, where Kathleen has remained for more than 40 years.

When the war ended, she took on a role as an assistant with a local newsagent’s run by her friend Jock Brown and retired at the age of 60.

Her husband, who died 11 years ago, had been a Post Office (PO) telegram boy prior to the outbreak of the conflict and returned to the PO following its conclusion, eventually earning promotion to the position of overseer.

A doting mother to her two daughters, Kathleen became a grandmother when her first-born gave birth to son Stuart (46) and then daughter Julia (40), who now has a child of her own, Esmee (7).

Her youngest daughter Jill also gave Kathleen the gift of grandchildren with the arrivals of Laura (35) and Lewis (31).

While taking care of her family and enjoying a chuckle along the way has always been the top priority for the grandmother-of-four, she also had a passion for hillwalking in her younger years and would regularly climb mountains in Torridon and the Lake District.

As well as preaching the importance of having a sense of humour and taking an interest in others, Kathleen’s other mantra over the decades has been to keep a healthy diet and she has never indulged in drinking alcohol or smoking.