Mary Wheeler, a resident of Westbank Residential Home, marked her 100th birthday on Friday, 8th September. The festivities, which spanned several days, were filled with surprises, family gatherings, and music, reflecting Mary’s vibrant life and passions.
A lifelong horse racing enthusiast, Mary’s special week kicked off with a surprise visit to the stables of her favourite, Venetia Williams Racing Yard in Herefordshire. The Activity Coordinators at Westbank arranged this delightful outing, where Mary was treated to a guided tour of the 80-horse stables. The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly her meeting with Venetia Williams herself. “Everyone at the stables made it an enjoyable visit as they were so kind,” shared a representative from Westbank.
On her birthday, Mary was surrounded by family as they gathered to open birthday cards. Among the many well-wishes, one stood out - a card from The King & Queen. This was particularly touching as Mary, a staunch royalist, had the Queen pass away on her 99th birthday.
The main celebration took place at Westbank on a sunlit Friday afternoon. Close friends and family joined Mary, and a piper played a special rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. The day was filled with sunshine, memories, champagne, and laughter, making it truly unforgettable.
The festivities didn’t stop there. On Saturday, The Forest of Dean Male Voice Choir serenaded Mary and the residents of Westbank, a thoughtful gift from one of Mary’s closest friends. The afternoon was filled with singing, champagne, cake, and candles, which humorously set off the fire alarms.
Born in Retford, Nottinghamshire, Mary Wheeler is the first child of Eric and Lillian and later welcomed a brother. As a young woman during the war, she served as a nursing sister in a local hospital, witnessing the harrowing aftermath of pilots’ injuries. Mary’s love story began under a streetlamp during a blackout, where she met Arthur. The couple later moved to Blakedown, where they raised two children, Barbara and Michael. Mary’s life has been filled with work, family, and her love for horse racing and crosswords.
In lieu of the traditional 100 birthday cards, Mary expressed her wish to raise money for charities dear to her heart. The Westbank team and residents rallied behind her, organising a car wash, which humorously coincided with a sandstorm. Through this and other fundraising events, Mary raised a commendable £600. She expressed her gratitude to all donors, sharing that the funds would be split between the residents’ fund and a cancer charity of her choice.