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Finchley Road care home celebrates centenaries of two residents in one month

14:00 09 August 2014

Ruth Kollner and Bella Shore, residents of Spring Grove Retirement Home, are both celebrating their 100th birthdays this month. Picture: Dieter Perry

Ruth Kollner and Bella Shore, residents of Spring Grove Retirement Home, are both celebrating their 100th birthdays this month. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

A care home celebrated the first of two 100th birthdays as a pair of residents happened to reach their centenaries in the same month.

Bella Shore, who lives at Spring Grove Retirement Home in Finchley Road, was surrounded by her carers, family members and friends as she broke out the champagne and blew the candles out on her huge birthday cake last week.

The only surviving sibling of four children, Mrs Shore was born just two days after Britain entered the First World War.

She was brought up in a proud East End immigrant neighbourhood “where the whole street would compete with each other to have the whitest and cleanest front step”.

Her parents, who were of modest means, owned a fish shop in Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets, before later opening a tobacconists in Stoke Newington.

And if there’s a secret to her long life, it certainly couldn’t have been her diet.

“One thing’s for sure, you can’t say I’ve survived so long because of what I ate,” she said.

“I’ve pretty much eaten whatever I’ve wanted. I loved fish and chips and I loved sweets. And we had a shop for each.

“So it’s unlikely that helped keep me going for so long.

“But my mother also lived to a grand old age. She died when she was 101.”

Quitting her job as a cutter for a lingerie company, she married just after the end of the Second World War and moved to Lindon Lea in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

She was widowed after 26 years when her husband was struck down with cancer.

But it was when she got engaged to close friend Joe Shore a couple of years later that she “found love”.

“Her first marriage was for stability,” said nephew Barry Sherrard, who lives in Gurney Drive, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

“Her second was for love. But she was a very, very beautiful woman. She would turn heads when she walked down the street.

“I was nine when I first met her and even then I remember how stunning she was.”

A move to Buckland Crescent in Swiss Cottage saw her continue living with independence until she was an extraordinary 97-years-old, when she moved to Spring Grove.

Clutching her much-prized telegram from the Queen and seated next to fellow care home resident Ruth Kollner, who also turns 100 at the end of the month, she added proudly: “I don’t think I’ve had a day’s illness in my life.”

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