Secrets of longevity, New Forest Colten Care home Irene aged 104

Happy 104th Birthday Irene!

One of Hampshire’s oldest residents reveals her personal secrets of longevity, as she celebrates her 104th birthday in her Colten Care home Kingfishers New Milton

One of Hampshire’s oldest residents revealed her personal secrets of longevity as she celebrated her 104th birthday.

Happy Birthday

Remarkable great grandmother Irene Harris said enjoying lots of fresh air and avoiding salt in your diet were important pieces of advice for living to a century and beyond.

Born in 1917, a year before the end of World War One, Irene was speaking during her birthday party at Colten Care’s Kingfishers care home in New Milton.

Her earliest memories are of going for long walks in her home city of Birmingham with her parents and younger sister Joyce.

Childhood fun also featured ice-skating, fencing and being a regular passenger on a friend’s motorbike.

Irene said she could have attended a grammar school but her family couldn’t afford the price of the uniform and she started work in an office at the age of 14. She recalled that the word ‘teenager’ hadn’t yet been invented in the 1930s.

Being ‘good at numbers’ kept Irene in office work, and she also spent time serving in a munitions factory during the Second World War.

She later worked in a wallpaper shop and a Post Office in charge of greeting card sales.

No retirement, really... perhaps a clue?

Lady with cake and flowersAfter her retirement at age 75, Irene volunteered in a Marie Curie charity shop until she was 90.

As well as the UK, Irene and her second husband Tom lived in Australia for four years and travelled extensively across Europe and in the US.

In 1964, they moved to Highcliffe where Irene lived until she moved to nearby Kingfishers.

Irene has a daughter Linda, a son Peter, four grandchildren and a great grandson Wilf.

Joined at her 1960s-themed birthday party by family members under a safe-visiting protocol, Irene was naturally the centre of attention.

Kingfishers team members granted her birthday wish, playing and dancing along to her favourite song, Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit These Boots are Made for Walkin’.   

Good genes, no salt, lots of fresh air! 

On the secret of a long life, Irene said: “I must have inherited that from my parents, but I know that no salt and lots of fresh air will also do you good."

Beata Brzozowska, Home Manager at Outstanding-rated Kingfishers, said: “It was a privilege to help Irene celebrate her special day. She is truly a remarkable lady.”


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Three of Colten's New Forest homes are rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission: Linden House specialist dementia care home in Lymington, Woodpeckers residential home in Brockenhurst and Kingfishers in New Milton.

See below for details of all Colten Care homes in the New Forest.


3 local homes rated outstanding

Find out more about Colten Care's New Forest homes online

With more than 30 years’ experience, Colten Care is an award-winning family-owned care home company. It has 21 quality care homes covering Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex and offers a range of services spanning residential, nursing and dementia care. 

All Colten Care homes are registered for nursing care

Colten Care operates six residential nursing and care homes in the New Forest, including three in Lymington: Belmore Lodge, Court Lodge and dementia specialist Linden House. There are also homes in Brockenhurst (Woodpecker's), New Milton (Kingfisher's) and Mudeford (Avon Reach). Click on the links to find out more about each home... 

Colten Care's Avon Reach    Colten Care Court Lodge Lymington    Colten Care Linden House Lymington 

Colten Care Belmore Lodge Lymington    Colten Care Kingfishers New Milton    Colten Care Woodpeckers Brockenhurst




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