Glebe Care Centre’s eldest resident and current poster girl Josie is 96 years young. Josie was born just outside Derry/Londonderry near the shores of the River Foyle.
Josie experienced heartache for the first time at a very young age, her mother passed away in childbirth whilst labouring with Josie’s younger brother. From the age of 5 Josie went to live with her aunt who had a small farm nearby. During this time she attended the local primary school and by all accounts was noted as a very bright pupil. When the school day was done Josie helped out on the farm, tending the livestock and other seasonal chores.
After leaving school the Northwest girl entered training for ’service’ and eventually obtained regular employment in a large house occupied by the local ‘gentry’. Josie worked in the kitchen and served meals in the dining room, a position often referred to as ‘scullery maid’. She recalls that the two ‘ladies’ of the house bred Scottish Deerhounds and they often prizes at Crufts. Josie tells us that she used to be fed up polishing all the trophies they won! Her experience may have mirrored that of ITV Downton Abbey’s kitchen maid Daisy.
Shortly after the outbreak of war Josie joined the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service). She attended training in Scotland prior to taking up a posting in Northern Ireland. Her post was located in Whiteabbey in a large house called Macedon Point. The house later became an orphanage and has since been demolished.
During her free weekends she would travel home by train. It was on one of these journeys that she met her husband John. They married in July 1944, just six months after first meeting. She reminisces that it was love at first sight. Within a very short time she realised she was pregnant. The expected date given by the doctor caused great consternation, and it was no small relief to Josie when her son Gordon arrived nine months and thirteen days after her wedding day!
A few years later another son was born. At around 18 months old Josie’s second born developed a cold but Josie knew it was more serious. Her son was diagnosed with polio and spent several months in hospital. Thankfully he made a full recovery.
In 1951 things were on the up for Josie and her family. They moved into a new home, modern for its day with running water, an inside toilet with flush and a bath! This was luxury compared to what they were used to. The family were very happy there, especially when their much craved for daughter, Helen came along the following year.
Following years of contentment, life took a downturn for Josie and her family with the loss of her beloved husband John, who died suddenly at 51 years old. Following this time Josie continued to raise her family, and had many hobbies, including gardening and walking her various dogs.
In later years Josie had a fall, and realised she couldn’t manage at home on her own any longer. Josie moved to Glebe Care Centre following the fall where she continues to live a very happy life, a content member of the care centre community who exercises a very sharp wit! She retains her independence and in fact Josie can walk faster down the corridor than some of the staff!
Josie and family kindly agreed to share her life story with us. Larchwood Care (NI) Ltd would like to thank Josie for sharing with us and for agreeing to be the pin-up girl for Glebe Care Centre’s information brochure.