Memories of Belfast Blitz for centenarian Alice

Celebrating their 100th birthday at Ravenhill Nursing Home are Alice Scott, who hits the milestone on February 27, and Lizzie Hamill, who celebrated her birthday on February 16.  Also pictured are staff members Hayley Craig, Lynsey Browne and Rachel McWilliams. INCT 07-402-RM
Celebrating their 100th birthday at Ravenhill Nursing Home are Alice Scott, who hits the milestone on February 27, and Lizzie Hamill, who celebrated her birthday on February 16. Also pictured are staff members Hayley Craig, Lynsey Browne and Rachel McWilliams. INCT 07-402-RM

There were joint celebrations at Greenisland’s Ravenhill Nursing Home on Saturday as two residents neared an important milestone.

Alice Scott and Elizabeth Hamill were joined by staff, fellow residents and family members as they prepared to mark their one hundredth birthdays.

For Elizabeth, the big day fell on February 16, while Alice will become a centenarian on February 27.

The Times caught up with Alice on Friday to share in some of her memories of the past 100 years.

A native of Scotland, Alice was born in Dumbarton in 1915. She went to school at West Bridgend and Dumbarton Academy, later taking a job at the Co-op.

But it was during a trip to Portrush during the 1930s that she met her future husband Joseph, who was from Antrim.

Alice and Joseph married in 1940, settling in the Ormeau area of Belfast during the height of the war years. They had three children: Alastair, Brian, and David. “I remember the Belfast Blitz well,” Alice recalls. “The Antrim Road and the docks area got the worst of it; we could see the flames in the distance from our house. My husband was on fire watch and he went down to help, but there was nothing they could do at that point but carry out the dead - there was no first aid at that time.

“I remember bread being scarce and there were vans laden with loaves coming up to York Street from Dublin.

“I didn’t like living in Belfast; it was too built up and I never set foot on a bus or a tram; I walked everywhere.”

It was only when their eldest son Alastair took a job at Kilroot that Alice and her husband moved to Carrickfergus, where the family’s new home had ample space for one of Alice’s favourite past-times - gardening. “We had a detached house with a garden and we specialised in growing fruit,” she said.

The outdoor lifestyle has undoubtedly had a positive influence on the centenarian, who points to her balanced diet and wealth of exercise as the secret to long life. “I spend a good deal of time reading my Bible; it keeps my mind active,” Alice added.