Heysham gran will mark 100th birthday during Jubilee celebrations

A Heysham woman whose early life was spent in an orphanage and who became a qualified nurse a year after the NHS was founded celebrates her century on June 3.

By Louise Bryning
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 3:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2022, 3:58 pm

“I can’t believe I’ve reached this age,” says Meg Phillips at the home where she still lives independently.

Meg doesn’t depend on carers to look after her and only gave up gardening three years ago.

“I was still mowing the lawn when I was 96. It broke my heart when I had to get a gardener.”

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Heysham resident Meg Phillips, who is turning 100 on June 3, pictured with a photo of herself as a nurse in her younger days. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Born Dorothy Marjorie Worthington in 1922, but known as Meg, she didn’t have the easiest starts to life.

Her dad’s experience in World War One led to the break-up of his marriage, forcing Meg, her twin brother Vivien, and elder sister into care.

Meg was just eight when she left her home in Alderley Edge in Cheshire to move into an orphanage in Lincoln along with her sister. Meg’s twin was sent to a different orphanage in Durham before eventually also moving to Lincoln.

Although often separated from her siblings, Meg has fond memories of Christmases and Easters at the orphanage.

At 16, Meg left care for an office job at Burton’s men’s clothing factory in Manchester where she met her future husband, apprentice engineer Norman.

However, war was on the horizon. Norman was called up and served in the 29th Armoured Brigade, the Tank Corps, guarding the English coastline.

Meg did her duty too, handling huge cylinder blocks during the finishing process for Spitfire engines at a factory in Manchester’s Trafford Park. She worked 12 hours a day, five days a week for four years.

“The highlight of my wartime career was when the king of Norway visited the factory. We were told just to get on with our work and not to look at him but when he came past me, we exchanged a little smile!”

After the war, Meg joined Manchester’s School of Nursing and did some of her training at what is now the Northern General Hospital, where wounded soldiers were among her patients.

Just after qualifying in 1949, Meg and Norman married. They both shared the same birthday, Norman being one year older. They went on to have a son, John, and a grandson, Jon.

When Norman got a job as an instrument articifer at ICI in Middleton, the couple moved to Heysham before settling in Meg’s present home, where she has lived for 65 years.

Meg took a part-time nursing post in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s orthopaedic ward before spending 22 years nursing at Beaumont Hospital, treating conditions including whooping cough and scarlet fever.

During her time there, she became the allergy nurse, testing patients suffering allergies, quite groundbreaking work for the time.

Her final nursing post was in the medical room at ICI.

Unfortunately, Meg and Norman had little time to enjoy their retirement as Norman died in 1988.

Six years earlier, Meg had joined Morecambe Bay Fellowship and says her faith could be one reason why she has lived so long.

“My faith is first and foremost.”

Drinking a cold cup of water every morning and barely touching alcohol may have also contributed to her long life.

Meg will celebrate her 100th birthday with a party at Morecambe Golf Club during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend.