Do you remember the end of the First World War in 1918? Or when the tallest building of its time, the Empire State Building, was erected in 1930? The first Moon Landing in 1969? No? Neither do we, but one person who has lived through all of these world-changing events is Volunteering Matters beneficiary, Edie.

Edie, along with her extended family including her great, great grand-daughter, celebrated her centenary in March. Travelling from California, her family were elated to be there for her special day. Edie was also delighted to receive birthday cards from the Queen and Wales First Minister, Caerwen Jones.

Edie, who is a beneficiary of the Volunteering Matters project ‘Welcome Friends’ in Wales, also enjoyed a birthday visit from her volunteer befriender, Lisa. Guests arrived with cake, presents, cards and some sherry (though Edie claims she is not much of a drinker!) to mark the day.

Lisa told us a little more about this lovely lady’s 100 year adventure:

“Edith Cavell Clarke was born in 1916, and was one of six children. The family lived with their grandparents and Aunt Bessie in Scotts Row, Lllwynypia Rhondda.

Edie loved school, was an avid reader and was allowed to borrow her favourite geography books from school. She had a longing to learn and was top of her class in most subjects. Twice a week she would walk with her grandmother to chapel, catch the tram back to Pandy square and was treated to chips on the way home. She loved potatoes so much she was given the nickname of Murphy by her family and always received an extra spud at dinner!

Aged 15, Edie left school and travelled alone to London to become a maid. She recalls her time there as being very happy and greatly enjoyed meeting people and exploring the capital.

Tom Clarke, her childhood sweetheart, wrote to her every week until her return to Wales where they were married. They had two children and five grandchildren and she was often told that no-one could cook like her! Tom was a collier, who, like so many other miners, ‘came down with the dust’. When he was compensated for his ill-health, they were able to buy their house in Williamstown and both lived there happily until Tom’s death in 1992.

 Edie now lives alone in the same house with just her memories. Though she speaks to her daughter in Florida every evening, living so far away from her family left her feeling lonely. However, with the Welcome Friends project I have been visiting Edie every Sunday afternoon for over a year now and we have become very good friends. Edie is a remarkable, kind, gentle lady who is thankful and contented with her lot. Fiercely independent, she is grateful for having had a full and happy life.

Edie is an inspiration to us all and I am privileged to know her. Happy birthday, Edie!”

Edie 100
Edie surrounded by her gifts and cards