100-year-old Mary celebrates milestone birthday with a unique gift

Date published: 18 November 2021

A lady who could be the oldest resident to use Oldham's library services has celebrated her birthday with a cake and a special gift organised by library staff.

Mary Wright from Failsworth reached the grand old age of 100 and celebrated with a visit to her local library - a service she's been using since she was a child.

Mary was presented with a birthday cake, and the library staff also put together a special display of books about Failsworth - ‘Mary’s Memories Scrapbook’, which included a collection of photos of the area supplied by the Local Studies and Archives team and articles from a newspaper dated from the week she was born.

Mary has always been an avid reader and remembers joining the library at a very early age.

Agatha Christie's first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, introducing Hercule Poirot was published in the year Mary was born. Ernest Shackleton set sail on his last expedition to Antarctica and The Royal British Legion held the first official Poppy Day.

Back then the library was where it is now, in Failsworth Town Hall.

In the 1950s it was moved to a new purpose-built building, The Robert Sidlow Library, which she continued to visit.

Mary moved into sheltered accommodation in Oldham in the 1980s, so she hadn’t been back to Failsworth Library since it moved back into the town hall several years ago

In her new home Mary continued to read and regularly borrowed books from the mobile library, but when the mobile library closed, Mary became eligible for the Home Library Service (HLS).  

The service has enabled Mary to continue her love for reading as she now gets a regular delivery to her home.

In the past, books were just delivered, whereas now Mary looks forward to the monthly volunteer visits, when she can chat about the books and have a general catch up and a natter.

Mary says she’s appreciative of the HLS and says she would be lost without it, particularly now she isn't as mobile as she once was.

She feels it has benefits her overall wellbeing, contributing to keeping her mind alert and active as her enthusiasm for books and reading has never waned.  

Mary reads widely from our large print collection and enjoys everything from classics, to contemporary fiction, and a healthy dose of murder mystery.  

Councillor Shaid Mushtaq, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “It was great to be told about Mary’s story and I’m delighted our staff and volunteers were able to make her birthday such a special occasion.

“We know our library service is important to residents of all ages and Mary’s story shows that if you have a love of reading early then it can stay with you for life.

“Our Home Library Service is a great example of how we have adapted to support and meet the needs of residents throughout their lives.”

For more information and to see if you could be eligible for the service please contact libraries@oldham.gov.uk or call 0161 770 8000. 

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