We certainly have an interesting set of residents at Pelham House, so we thought it would be interesting to have a closer look at some of the extraordinary lives and experiences which exist under our roof.

For the first in a series of ‘Resident of the Month’ profiles, we naturally had to start with our oldest resident – Freda McCall who will be 102 in January.

She was born in Dublin on the 5th of January 1916, and was the 11th of 15 siblings, although only nine grew to adulthood.

She is the last surviving offspring of that generation who herself had one son and three daughters. The most familiar of her children who visits Freda is Maggie, who can be seen at the Home most days.

“I’m often asked about the secret of her longevity,” Maggie told me during one of her recent visits. “Well, she never smoked or drank alcohol [although we do know she enjoyed a drop of Champagne at the Grand Hotel on her 101st birthday!], and has always walked everywhere, having never driven.”

This, of course, sounds like a sensible recipe for a healthy lifestyle for anyone of any age, let alone a centenarian!

“She has always been slim and has loved her gardening, although she has thoroughly enjoyed regular fry-ups of sausage, egg and bacon throughout her life!” said Maggie.

At the age of 14, Freda’s mother sent her to Scotland to live with her brother and his wife, and at 20 she moved to London. With the impending outbreak of the Second World War, she returned to Ireland, but came to Folkestone after the end of hostilities in 1946.

During her 70 years living in the town, she had a number of jobs. She worked at Bobby & Co in Folkestone, a branch of the department store which was one of a number the company managed across southern England. The store is better known today as Debenhams in the High Street. She also worked at Portex in Hythe before retiring from there at the age of 60 in 1976.

Amazingly, she lived independently until she was 97 in 2013 when she moved into Pelham House. She has proved very popular among residents and staff alike, with her outgoing personality, sense of humour and her love of a good chat. Some images of her life can be found below.

We look forward to bringing you more stories of our extraordinary residents over the coming months! Some images of her life can be found here.

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