A Bedford care home resident is in store to receive a bumper crop of birthday cards when she turns 100 this week, thanks to an appearance on Good Morning Britain.
Norah Gould, who is a resident at Arden House, may not be able to spend her birthday with friends and family due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, but Tanya Waite, the manager at the care home where she lives, was determined that she would not be overlooked.
Norah – who turns 100 on 16 January – appeared on Good Morning Britain yesterday (Monday) to be interviewed by Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan.
Addressing Piers as ‘darling’, Norah had the GMB hosts laughing as they wished her a happy birthday.
And Piers ended the interview by asking the show’s 1.5million viewers to each send a card to Norah at Arden House.
Following a similar request by Tanya on the Bedford Kindness Facebook group, Norah already has 61 cards waiting for her, in a safe, quarantined room at the Shakespeare Road care home.
It seems that following yesterday morning’s TV appearance, that number is likely to increase.
Norah attributes her longevity to the friendships and family that surround her, saying, “I feel love all around me.” Her Christian Science faith has sustained her throughout her life and she believes in the healing power of God.
A proud teetotaller and a non-smoker, the born and bred Bedfordian has been very active all her long life, enjoying gardening and showing determination to regularly ‘have my walk’.
She has not spent a day in hospital since the birth of her daughter, Julia, over 70 years ago.
Julia described how grateful her mother has been for the care she has received over the past few years.
Until 2019, Norah was living independently with carers from Bloom and Care regularly visiting her at her Goldington Green Home.
Norah says, “My carers say it’s their job, but I still want them to know how thankful I am for all they do for me.”
Summing up her mother’s achievements over the last century, Norah’s daughter, Julia, said,”A good start would be the 58 years she was happily married to her Albie. Devoted to family, they had two children and there are three grandsons and five great grandchildren so far.
“Norah sang in the Bedford Choral Society for nearly 50 years and until two years ago was regularly lunching with women friends from ’the back row of the altos’, as well as ‘the swimmers’, and Bedford Retirement Centre ramblers and her opera class mates.
“She often says ‘You must have a laugh!’- and they certainly did.
“Into her nineties she maintained jolly trips and holidays with her friend Janet, visiting Devon, France and Italy.”
Norah is rightly proud of her family unit: “we are famous!?’ she says.
She is actually referring to David Firth (Coleman), her son-in-law who has acted on stage, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre; as well as on TV and in film.
A Welsh tenor, born and educated in Bedford, David performed in many West End musicals, including the original West End cast of ‘Phantom of the Opera‘ and latterly ‘Dirty Dancing’.
And now, Norah’s grandson Matthew Coleman, known as M J Cole, is well-known to younger generations as the composer and producer of garage music including ‘Sincere’ and ‘Crazy Love’, as well as being a world-renowned DJ. In 2020 he topped the classical music album charts, composing , producing and performing tracks entitled ‘Madrugada’.
After yesterday’s appearance on GMB, Norah is now firmly in the spotlight with the rest of her talented family.
“What is remarkable to many of us was the realization that Norah had not spent a night in hospital for a period of over seventy years,” said Julia.
“Also, she had driven a car until her mid-nineties – a far cry from her journeys to work on her Lambretta scooter.”
So what will Norah’s lockdown birthday look like?
“Norah cannot wait to have her hair expertly cut and set by her hairdresser of over 40 years, Christine,” said Julia.
“She will put on her lipstick, powder her nose and dress in a pretty blouse and pearls.
“We cannot all be there to celebrate Norah’s big day, but we know that Tanya Waite and her Arden House staff are gearing themselves up for an extra special day.”
Anyone who would like to send a card to Norah can post it to Arden House, 19 Shakespeare Road, Bedford, MK40 2DZ.