BILD0058A Bield resident has brought in her 104th birthday in style by continuing a tradition which she started four years ago.

Since turning 100, Bessie Irving has celebrated her big day with residents of Oakbank Retirement Housing development in Alexandria by hosting an afternoon tea – an event which has become a valued custom for everyone at the development.

Bessie spent her youth working as a maid at Westerton House in Balloch, where she met her husband Jimmy who was working on a neighbouring farm and was quickly promoted to take on cooking and baking duties for the Lady of the house.

Now in her 19th year at Oakbank, she was happy to let others do the baking as she enjoyed a selection of teas and treats with her niece, Mary, as well as the other residents and staff.

Bessie said: “It’s lovely to be able to have a bit of a chat with everyone over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. It’s become a bit of a tradition.

“I really feel like part of a large family, the staff are so caring and are delighted to help out with anything at all. I definitely could not be in a better place.”

Since moving to Oakbank in 1997 Bessie has felt right at home and has enjoyed getting out into the community where she is much loved. Nowadays these friends are glad to return the favour and call in on Bessie regularly.

Eric Whitelaw, development manager, said: “We all had a wonderful day celebrating Bessie’s birthday.

“We have been lucky enough to have her here for 19 years and she has always been very popular with both residents and staff, so we like to make sure that we can all celebrate her birthday properly.

“It’s nice to have built up a bit of a tradition with the afternoon tea and it’s great to have a wee reminder of her time at Westerton House where she spent so many happy years.”

Bield is a registered charity that came from humble beginnings, starting out with just one development in Bo’ness to become a major of a wide range of housing and services for around 20,000 older people across 23 local authority areas.

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