Leeds United fans help to send 150 cards to amazing Leeds woman celebrating her 103rd birthday

Leeds United fans helped to make an amazing Leeds woman's 103rd birthday extra special by sending her mountains of cards on her special day.

By Joe Cooper
Friday, 4th September 2020, 6:00 am

Gwen Keane was born in 1917 - the youngest of seven children - and lived a stone's throw from Elland Road for much of her life.

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She only moved to the West Midlands from Moortown aged 97 to be closer to her daughter after the death of her husband, Geoffrey, in 2015.

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Gwen received almost 150 cards on her birthday after Leeds United fans heeded the call.

Staff at the home went the extra mile and put an appeal out online to the local community to try to get one card for each year of Gwen's long life.

But the appeal got shared among the Leeds United community too - which helped Gwen reach an incredible total of 145 cards on her birthday.

Gwen's daughter, Angela Watkinson, said: "Everyone was so kind to send them."

On the day itself (Wednesday, August 26), Gwen was given a red carpet entrance to her birthday party, complete with 103 balloons.

Gwen in her youth.

Hayley Wilkinson, general manager at the Barchester Healthcare home, came in specially to celebrate, with Angela donating 12 bottles of champagne.

Staff made sure some of Gwen's other favourite things were also part of the day.

A projector screen played messages from her family - as well as some from the stars from Strictly Come Dancing.

Local choir The Firebird Singers recorded versions of Happy Birthday and We'll Meet Again, as the late Vera Lynn is Gwen's favourite singer.

Gwen is still remarkably active for her age.

Gwen said after the event: “I loved every minute of my party - I felt like a princess."

Her daughter Angela said that Leeds United were a big part of the family's life growing up.

But she explained that her mother did not go to games, as she did not consider football matches an appropriate place for a woman all those decades ago.

However, she always followed the Whites and has fond memories of glory days gone by.

Gwen married Geoffrey in 1951 and had two children.

Angela added: "Before this, she worked a personal assistant in an office but gave it up as many women did in those days when she married.

"Her life was then devoted to caring for my brother and myself, and her mother who was in her eighties by then and lived with us.

"Mum loved to socialise and help people - she did some voluntary work, was active in the Townswomen’s Guild and was always on hand to help out neighbours or family who needed anything.

"She never learnt to drive but would get on a bus, train or walk to wherever she needed to get to whether that was a day trip out with friends, a weekly trip to the hairdresser, shopping expeditions or to see a relative.

"In her sixties she started going to keep fit classes, she swam and tried out line dancing."

Gwen and her son moved from Leeds to Balsall Common in 2015 so that Angela could look after them both.

Angela added: "But even then she was still very independent.

"She moved to Harper Fields in 2019 where not even a broken hip following a fall has kept her still - she’s on the go the whole time.

"Keeping busy and active has kept her going, along with the odd glass of sherry!"


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