A 100-year-old grandmother with as many as 89 grandchildren has said that a “happy frame of mind” is the secret to longevity.
Jo Allan, who has 12 children, 37 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, was surrounded by family and honored for her wartime service as she celebrated her historic birthday.
Jo, from Middlesbrough, Teesside, is one of the UK’s oldest residents and was one of thousands of female workers who worked in a munitions factory during the Second World War.
Her job, based in Aycliffe in County Durham, was important as she checked for bullets with errors.
Jo Allan (pictured left, as a young woman, and right, 100 years old), who has 12 children, 37 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, was surrounded by family and honored for her wartime service as she celebrated her historic birthday
Jo (pictured with some of her relatives), from Middlesbrough, Teesside, is one of the UK’s oldest residents and was one of thousands of female workers who worked in a munitions factory during WWII
At a small family gathering on her 100th birthday, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston called to give a surprise presentation on behalf of the council.
Jo was presented with a certificate and a brooch officially recognizing her as an Aycliffe Angel and thanking her for her contribution to the victory in Europe.
When asked about the secret to longevity, Jo said, “There’s not really a secret, but I do think it’s important to be in a happy frame of mind and try not to worry.”
Preston said: ‘These women have been uncelebrated and unrecognized for too long, but this is being done now because we need to tell the story of the efforts people like Jo made to support the brave soldiers who were fighting.
“I’m sure the incredible work that Jo and others have done has saved many lives. “It is time to recognize the efforts of all Aycliffe Angels during the war that contributed to positively changing the course of European history.”
Jo’s (pictured) job, based in Aycliffe in County Durham, was important as she checked for bullets with errors
Jo had hoped to celebrate her centenary with the whole family, but despite a planned party being canceled due to Covid concerns, she felt very special on her big day.
She received a birthday card from Her Majesty, as well as cards and video messages from relatives from even Canada, the US and Australia.
Mother-of-12 Jo was married to husband Dave for 61 years before he passed away in 2005 at the age of 82.
Their children include eight daughters – Pauline, Joan, Judith, Barbara, Mary, Catherine, Susan and Steph along with sons, Doug, Bernard, Gerard and Dave.
Her oldest child is now 77 years old, while her youngest great-grandchild is only five months old.
Mother-of-12 Jo (pictured with some of her relatives) was married to husband Dave for 61 years before dying in 2005 at the age of 82
In lieu of birthday gifts, Jo asked friends and family to make donations to Our Hospitals Charity for the Stroke Unit at James Cook University Hospital, where Dave was cared for before he died.
So far a total of £1,500 has been donated and despite a health problem two years ago, Jo is still continuing in her care home in Linthorpe, on the outskirts of town.
The only time she lived far from the northeast was during the war when Dave served as a radio operator and gunner at RAF Valley.
The newly married couple lived in Anglesey, Wales for a short period in Hereford at the end of the war.
Eldest child Pauline said: ‘Mom has always been the most loving, interesting and energetic mother, always on the go, putting us children first and herself last.
At a small family gathering on her 100th birthday, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston called to give a surprise presentation on behalf of the City Council.
‘My earliest memory of her is in 1947 when I came in from a walk and found my mother in the kitchen with red hands and arms.
“I was terrified, but it turns out she was dying out someone’s old curtains for our new home.”
Eldest son Doug paid tribute to his mother, saying: “Not only did she have 12 children, but then went back to work full-time until she retired at age 65.
Her favorite joke is that she knew what she was doing to have so many children – making sure she had enough caregivers when she got old.
“And she often complains that Covid is preventing her from going on vacation, which is unfair because she may not have many years left to live!”