Busy life helps Saddleworth’s Clara reach 100-years-old

SHE MAY have turned 100-years-old, but Clara Colley is very much proving the old adage, ‘Age is nothing but a number.’

Civic Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Zahid Chauhan, joined the celebrations at Waterhead’s Millfield Care Home as the occasion was marked.

And he obviously made a good impression, for his card was preferred to one from King Charles III!

Clara, who reached her century on Wednesday, November 15, has lived all her 100 years in Oldham, 98 of those in Clarksfield.

Clare Colley pictured with the Civic Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Zahid Chauhan

In her life, there have been five monarchs, one abdication and three coronations, 20 Prime ministers, a World War and a worldwide pandemic.

But what is the secret? Well, there are two.

Clara said: “Keep yourself busy. There’s always a little job to be done somewhere, or for somebody!

Clare with her family and friends on her 100th birthday

“And there’s cheese and onion pie!”

Born in 1923, the daughter of millworkers Hannah and William, Clara went to Clarksfield School.

The school owned a house nearby where the girls went to learn how to keep a home – cleaning, washing, ironing, mending.

Clara admits these were her favourite times because it got her out of the classroom and the more boring reading, writing and arithmetic lessons!

When she left, she went to work at Worrals, a local printing company and as a young apprentice, one of her first tasks was to count and collate printed material then tie it into bundles.

In the 1960s, she became a civil servant and went to work at the Stationery Office in Chadderton. She stayed there until her retirement.

As a young woman, Clara cared for her mum and after her death, she went to live just around the corner with her aunties.

This house, always her pride and joy, was where she lived until she moved to Millfield in 2021.

A busy work life and keeping her home spick and span did not leave much time for hobbies, but she always found time for family and friends, baking and cooking – sponge cakes, potato pie and cheese and onion pie were specialities – and helping to entertain at family get togethers.

Hearing all about Clara’s life with her friends

Retirement gave Clara more time to pursue her hobbies, chiefly reading and knitting.

She joined a flower arranging class and would meet friends to walk in and around Oldham and Saddleworth and in the Yorkshire Dales.

Holidays were always a feature of the summer months, travelling to all parts of the UK with her cousin George and family and regularly travelling to London to visit other family members.

A highlight of the winter months was attending the New Year Concert at the Bridgewater Hall.

Clara’s personality has made a big impact on all at Millfield, on Huddersfield Road.

Hime administrator Ann Marie Widdowson, who has seen three residents turn 100 recently, said: “You don’t have to spend long with Clara to realise she’s a strong, plain speaking and independent woman who knows her own mind and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

“For her family and friends, she has always been someone you could turn to for encouragement, support and a listening ear.”

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