An almoner’s inspiration

Theodore Roosevelt said: “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” It could be added that to make a complete success of it, you have also got to stay young. And that is exactly what 104 years old Dorothy Kirkman has achieved.

Sheldon Rawstrone.

Sheldon Rawstrone.

Born in 1911, in an era when one out of every seven employed persons in the UK, according to the census of that year, was a domestic servant and when the House of Commons voted on MPs receiving a salary for the first time (£400 per annum, that equates to about £42,000 today). Dorothy is the widow of the late Bill Kirkman of Blackpool Temperance Lodge No 5303 and is a lady who has held on to her elegance in old age. “Dorothy is as bright as a button and has a keen sense of humour despite her mature years” reported Sheldon Rawstrone, almoner of Blackpool Temperance Lodge when he attended her 104th birthday celebration. “She has had one of her regular manicures that keep her hands looking like those of a young girl”, he added.

The year of her birth saw the coronation of King George V; the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast, only to make history the following year when she struck an iceberg and sank during her maiden voyage, resulting in the loss of over 1,500 lives. The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre by Vincenzo Perugia and wasn’t recovered until 1913 and Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s fated polar expedition left Cape Evans for the South Pole.

Having lived through two world wars, the Great Depression of the 1930’s and witnessed huge technological advancements, one would not be surprised if Dorothy were frail and confused. But none of it! Dorothy has all her faculties and is full of the joys of life. “She is an inspiration to all who are privileged to meet her” says Sheldon.

Blackpool Temperance Lodge, as the name implies, was originally formed as a ‘dry’ lodge in which no alcoholic beverages were permitted. Since its consecration in 1931 however, such strict regulations have been relaxed and its members are now known to sample an odd brew or two.

In expressing his admiration for Dorothy, Sheldon recounted the time that, at 93 years of age, she was knocked down by a car and suffered a fractured hip. Commenting on the incident, Dorothy said that it was a major inconvenience: “The worst thing about it”, she said, “was that I couldn’t get into the taxi to take me to my computer lessons.”

Now that is the sort of strong spirit that has always been welcomed in Blackpool Temperance Lodge!

Sheldon visits Dorothy on her 104th birthday.

Sheldon visits Dorothy on her 104th birthday.