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Former nurse celebrates 100th birthday

BIRTHDAY: Ivy Seaton and Jamaican High Commissioner, his Excellency Mr Seth George Ramocan

A RETIRED nurse who dedicated her life to caring for people with mental health problems has celebrated her 100th birthday with the Jamaican High Commissioner, his Excellency Mr Seth George Ramocan.

Ivy Seaton, who lives at George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, moved to east London from her native Jamaica in the 1950s. She devoted her life to caring for psychiatric patients at Warley Hospital in Brentwood, later retiring to Leytonstone. Ivy, who developed dementia a few years ago, is adored by care home staff. Senior

Support Residential Worker Maria Aljoe said: “Ivy always puts other people before herself. She won’t start eating her meal until the person next to her has got their food. Her nursing spirit is still in her.”

Care assistant Pat Jackson commented: “Aunt Ivy likes to pray and she also likes to dance. She loves Jamaican music and gospel music and she will actually dance with her Zimmer frame! Because she was a sister in a hospital, sometimes she thinks she is in charge here!”

Ivy’s friend Marjorie Bolton has known her for more than 50 years. She recalls visiting her with her three daughters when Ivy lived in nurses’ accommodation.
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“Nurses are born. She was a mentor to the trainee nurses. Warley was a psychiatric hospital and people there had mental health problems or addiction. Some of them had fought in the Second World War and were suffering from what was then called shell shock but would be called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder nowadays," says Bolton.

“I was really ill in 1983 for about a year with a heart problem. I could not walk and I remember Ivy coming with me to hospital and putting me in a wheelchair and pushing me to the clinic. She was really kind.

Marjorie’s daughter Carol – like many people call Ivy “Aunt Ivy”. She said: “I remember Aunt Ivy taking my two sisters and I for piggy back rides. I also remember the summer of 1976 – it was a really hot summer. We had a cellar under the house and we would play down there with our dolls and Ivy would join us. She was like a much bigger sister – even though she was much older – because she could be a big kid!

“She liked sewing and needlepoint. She used to make all these dollys’ clothes for us when we were little and she had all these rummage drawers full of buttons we used to like to look in.”

Carol described Ivy’s belongings as a treasure trove that included a collection of chinaware that was passed on to her by her mother. She added: “Ivy is very tall and she was self-conscious about that. She loved Princess Diana and I think it was because Diana was also so tall.

“She enjoyed baking – especially sponge cakes – she had a sweet tooth. She was a good cook – she would make rice and peas with spicy bream or snapper.”

Staff from Waltham Forest Council’s Adult Service Team joined many of Ivy’s friends at her 100th birthday celebrations. Care home manager Karen Martindale said: “It was a lovely occasion with one resident playing the piano, another describing Ivy’s career as a nurse and another making a speech to thank all who attended.”

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