This festive season is a magical time for three sisters in St Helens who will be spending their first Christmas under one roof after nearly 70 years!
It’s been a while since sisters Jean Cook, Irene O’Donnell and Annie Walker have lived together – 67 years in fact when Jean moved out of the family home in 1951 and got married.
But this year it’s a joyous occasion as they will be reunited to enjoy the merry festivities where they live at Ivy Court Retirement Living scheme, run by housing association Riverside.
“This is the first Christmas and New Year under one roof since we grew up in Albert Street in Gerard’s Bridge. It’s lovely to be back together again, otherwise we would have sent each other Christmas cards instead,” says Jean.
She added: “We’ve already started celebrating Christmas as we had a party with all the residents at Ivy Court at the weekend. The three of us never thought this would happen living under one roof together. Annie moved in first and I’d visit her and could see what a lovely place it was to live. It’s always warm and everybody is so nice here.
“We are looking forward to Christmas Day and Boxing Day and will have a drink and watch television together. We’re also celebrating New Year’s Eve in the communal lounge with other residents to see the New Year in.”
Great-grandmothers Jean, 88, Irene, 86, and Annie, 83, all live in their own apartment at the scheme in Fingerpost, St Helens. Annie was the first to live at the scheme 10 years ago, followed by Jean two years later, and then Irene moved in this September.
Annie is pleased that her elder sisters aren’t far away, she said: “The first thing I do each morning is visit Jean and Irene to wish them a ‘good morning’. We have a natter and socialise more now which we wouldn’t be able to do if we were living on our own. It’s lovely to have the company of my sisters, and if one of us isn’t well then we’re on hand to look after each other. We’ve always been close, and spend time together either in each other’s flats or go into town shopping.
“I love living here because you’re never lonely and there’s always someone to chat to, and my long-time friend Pat lives here too. It’s always lovely and warm and we feel safe and secure here. They are lovely flats, the nicest in St Helens.”
Now that Jean, Irene and Annie live close to one another they enjoy their time reminiscing about their childhood.
Irene added: “We were a big family of six sisters and three brothers. The girls shared a bedroom with two double beds, and there was an outside toilet, no hot water or central heating then. We didn’t have a fridge or freezer either. Dad would prepare the fire in the morning and make us all toast on a toasting fork before he went to work. We would share each other’s clothes, it was first up best dressed.”
A favourite past time for Jean, Irene and Annie was going to Holy Cross Dance Hall Dancing and the picture house.
Annie recalls: “It was our life back then, dancing. I loved dancing and went four times a week and the pictures on Sunday, then rush back to listen to the Top 20 on the radio.
“Now it’s lovely to be able to spend time with my sisters, enjoy ourselves and have a natter whenever we want. It’s the best decision I’ve made moving to Ivy Court and now I have my two sisters to enjoy it with.”