Leeds great-grandma reveals her secrets to a happy life as she celebrates 100th birthday in style

A great-grandma from Leeds who is celebrating her 100th birthday in style says good genes, plenty of dancing and the odd tipple have helped her reach the milestone.

By Abbey Maclure
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 11:45 am

Bessie Wood, who turns 100 today, is having a big bash surrounded by her family on Saturday after being unable to see them for much of the pandemic.

She still lives independently at her home in Morley, with regular visits from her daughters Susan Burniston and Jean Edwards.

Bessie told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I think it’s in the genes because there were quite a few long-livers in the family, both on my dad’s side and my mum’s.

Bessie Wood, who turns 100 today, is having a big bash surrounded by her family on Saturday (Photo: Tony Johnson)

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"I’ve been active and danced a lot. Up to four years ago I went ballroom dancing and line dancing every week.

“And the odd tipple helps."

Born in Morley on March 9, 1922, Bessie worked in a textile mill as a teenager and then in munitions during the Second World War.

Bessie still lives independently at her home in Morley, with regular visits from her daughters Susan Burniston and Jean Edwards (pictured)

Her grandfather is the late England and Yorkshire cricketer Bobby Peel and she fondly remembers him nudging her to eat her vegetables as a child.

Bessie met her husband Kenneth Wood, an engineer, when she was 18 at a promenade near Morley Town Hall.

She said: "Up one side were all the teenage boys standing and chatting and on the right were all the girls, linking arms with their mates and walking up and down.

Bessie said the secret to a long and happy life is good genes, plenty of dancing and the odd tipple (Photo: Tony Johnson)

"Then the boys would shout at the girls to have a chat and that’s how you got to know them. It sounds ridiculous now!”

The pair were happily married for 55 years, before Kenneth died in 1999 aged 78.

They had four children; Susan, Jean and Linda, who died at 10 months old, and a son who died of cancer when he was 50.

It was a difficult time for Bessie and she cherishes time spent with her family; her birthday party at Morley Cricket Club will be a big family reunion.

Her 99th birthday was a more subdued affair, with only Susan and Jean able to visit for nibbles and drinks due to coronavirus restrictions.

“I see a lot of my girls and they’re very good," Bessie added.

"I don’t know what I’d have done without them. I’ve been very lucky really.

“We haven’t been able to meet up in person, but I'm glad things seem to be getting back to normal now.

"I had seven close lady friends that I used to see all the time, but they’ve all gone now - and you don’t half miss them."

Bessie worked in the restaurant for staff at ASDA in Morley before she retired aged 60.

She is looking forward to the milder weather this spring and is on a waiting list to receive a walking aid to help her get out in the sunshine.

Bessie will celebrate her birthday by going out for lunch with Jean and her husband Roy, before getting her nails done on Friday in preparation for her big party.

"She’s a very classy lady," Jean, 71, said.

“She is my rock. She’s a lovely lady - she’s kind, so wise and she’s beautiful.

“Not many people get to mine and my sister’s age and can say they still have mum with them, it’s a lovely feeling.

“We’re so proud of her."

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