Marking a 100th birthday is a joyous event for all involved, and for Crewe’s Betty Palmer, the occasion has proven to be extra special as she becomes one of a small number of people in receipt of royal well wishes from both King Charles III and Queen Camilla, as well as Elizabeth II.
Opening the congratulatory card surrounded by family, friends and Belong care village carers at her party, Betty said of reaching triple figures: “Your age is just a number but so lovely to receive such a very special card.”
It was in 2010 when Betty, along with husband, Eric, received their first message from the palace, this time from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for their diamond wedding anniversary. Over one million messages were sent to mark birthdays and anniversaries during the late queen’s reign1, though it is thought that just a handful will be in possession of cards from two different monarchs.
Born in 1923 as Elizabeth Hughes, Betty has known five monarchs, twenty prime ministers and has witnessed enormous social and cultural change, perhaps the first, the prohibition of the sale of alcohol to under eighteens, coming into law just weeks after her birth.
Having grown up in Birkenhead Wirral, she met her future husband at a dance hall while on holiday with her friend in Wales in the late 1940s. After marrying in 1950, the couple resided in Liverpool where they welcomed the arrival of a baby girl, Sue, three years later. Betty worked as an auxiliary nurse in the city’s Walton Centre, before they relocated to Cheshire.
In later life, Betty worked as a housekeeper into her 70s and continued supporting her family until Eric sadly passed away four years ago. Since then, she has continued to live with her daughter and son-in-law semi independently, with the assistance of Belong at Home Crewe community carers. Earlier this summer, the dementia specialist helped her transition to a new home at Belong Crewe village on Brookhouse Drive.
Betty’s attitude to work, resilience, and remaining active in later years may hold the secret to longevity, her daughter Sue Clark believes: “The Belong carers always ask how she can be so agile at her age. I think it might be to do with all those years spent on her feet, working and helping her immediate family.
“Or, perhaps it’s down to her daily tipple of brandy! She’s had a wonderful life, with the support of her husband and we have many happy family memories, caravanning in Wales and enjoying cruises on the continent. She’s a wonderful mum and I don’t suppose many people get to have a mother at my age – we’re lucky to have her.”
Jane Gabbert, area manager at Belong at Home Crewe, added: “We’ve known Betty and her family for a while now and to get to know them personally and be part of this chapter in their lives is wonderful. Many congratulations, Betty!”
1British Royal Family. (2022). The first birthday cards from The King and The Queen Consort arrive in the post. (online). Last accessed 17 August 2023 at: https://www.royal.uk/first-birthday-cards-king-and-queen-consort-arrive-post