With the results of a study of 85-year-olds in the region published yesterday HANNAH DAVIES speaks to one of the participants on why a loving relationship and family are the important things in life
“There is a lot of love and helpfulness in both sides.”
The couple met up with hardships but Peggy says: “My husband, in all the years we’ve been together has only taken one week’s dole money.
“He’s worked all the time, never been out of work, even shovelling snow in the bad days.
“Bill managed to start a little haulage business but the boys didn’t want to carry on, the thing was he was able by being careful we weren’t in this house very long and he applied to buy it so we had our own home.
“He’s worked very hard.”
Peggy also worked hard, raising her six children and, later in life, she sewed costumes for Newcastle Boys’ Gang Show beginning in 1963 when Stephen took part in the show at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and then when Edward and Patricia took part. She sewed costumes for the performances for 22 years.
She was also a Holy Cross church warden and served on the parish council.
One of the things Peggy says has altered in family life is the benefits culture.
She says: “There’s more handouts now. My husband and I had to work, there was no option.
“Sometimes we’ve had to scrape through but we’ve managed but I think today the younger generation get their handouts too easily. It seems they don’t wait for anything.
“When I was younger we never went into any debt if we didn’t have the money we went without and saved up for it.”
Life is, she states, definitely easier now. Peggy’s father was left disabled when he was injured in an accident at Birtley Pit, and her elder sister died of pneumonia when she was just six months old.
She recalls: “In my younger days I thought people seemed to be older.
“I think it was because they had harder lives.
“To me my life has been very easy. We haven’t been affluent but we’ve managed.
“One of the things is in the areas I’ve lived the neighbours were kind and ready to help each other.”
Health is an issue with Peggy, but she says it isn’t something she lets overwhelm her.
She adds: “My health isn’t great now, I’m bothered with arthritis and other issues but I’m being well looked after, I’ve just got to ring the surgery up and they see to me. I am happy. I’ve had ups and downs, most people have, but I’ve a wonderful husband, my family have all been fine and willing to help in the best way they can.”
Peggy is content and she says she’s learnt not to worry.
She finishes: “I live for the moment now.
“I often wonder what will happen in the future but, as I was once told by an elderly lady at the time, I shouldn’t worry as the children grow up to live in the environment they have and with the changes in the world.
“We feel the changes but the children don’t because they grow into it.
“I’ve stayed happy by being content., by never being envious and, as years have gone by, things have got easier.”