She’s lived during two world wars and witnessed much change throughout her impressively long life but Mollie Warner - one of Leeds’ oldest residents – said she still feels young at heart as she reaches her 104th birth
The great-great-grandmother achieved the incredible milestone yesterday and celebrated with a gathering among family and friends at her West Park home – where she still lives, independently.
Popular Mollie was also thrown a bash earlier this month at the Polish Centre in Chapeltown by fellow members of the North East Leeds Luncheon Club where Leeds Mayor, Coun Jane Dowson, presented her with a certificate to commemorate the special occasion.
Mollie told the Yorkshire Evening Post she doesn’t feel 104 years old and said she believes keeping active – mentally, physically and socially – is the keyto a long life. She said: “I feel no different to when I was younger. I’m very independent.”
Regarding her age, she said: “That’s what God wills and I’m living it out. I think [it’s down to] keeping your mind busy, working hard and looking after other people. I love people.
“Hard work didn’t kill anyone. I’m very happy that I have what I have and I’ve lived a very good life. My children mean the world to me – and my friends and neighbours.”
Mollie was born in 1913 in India, where her father was in the British Army and then worked in the railway.
She spent her early years in Agra, home to the famous Taj Mahal, but when she was about seven or eight the family moved briefly to back to England, settling in Leeds where her father had a grocery shop.
Mollie had just begun at a convent school on Cavendish Street when they decided to return to India and she was sent to boarding school in Mussoorie in the Himalayas. She said: “I have lots of memories. I do remember going up to school in the Himalayas on horseback.”
She met her first husband Reginald Wilson in 1936 and four of her five children were born in India before they moved to England and lived in Harrow, where her youngest daughter Frances was born. Reginald died in 1967 but Mollie went on to marry her second husband Reginald Warner in 1983 and together they moved to the home she now lives in Leeds, where Reginald sadly died in 1994.
Her son Peter, 78, who lives in Harrow, said his mother tries to stay active and still uses the stairs at her home, considering them good exercise.
He added: “She’s very active and she pushes herself. Her mind is as sharp as anyone’s and her memory is very good. She does crosswords constantly and reads too – her eye sight is good.”
Daughter Frances, 65, who lives in Middlesbrough, added: “She gets up and takes each day as a new day. She is quite strong-willed and just battles on and is independent and that’s how she has got to be where she is.
“In her head she doesn’t realise she’s 104. She’s always loved people - her house was always full of people, growing up.”
As well as crosswords and reading, Molly says she also enjoys knitting.
The five generations of her family also includes 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grand children and five great-great-grandchildren – spread out across England, California and Australia.
Friend and North East Leeds Luncheon Club chairwoman Shirley Woodman said: “Mollie is absolutely remarkable. She still retains every faculty and she is most interesting to talk to about her past. She’s had such a wonderful and varied past.
She is just a wonderful person.”
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jane Dowson said: “What an absolute privilege it was to meet Molly last week. During her life she has seen and experienced so much, I really enjoyed listening and finding out more about this remarkable lady.
“It was so fascinating to hear about Molly’s early life in India and everything she has experienced since arriving in Leeds so many years ago. We can learn so much from the generations that have lived before us and be inspired by people like Molly who has reached the grand age of 104.”