Eileen’s 103rd birthday

Birthday girl: Eileen Veal prepares to cut her 103rd birthday cake. Photos: supplied

Birthday girl: Eileen Veal prepares to cut her 103rd birthday cake. Photos: supplied

Taking an interest in everything – that’s Eileen Veal’s secret to longevity. And it is a tip to live by considering she celebrated her 103rd birthday on January 3.

 
Australia Bound: All the Veal family shortly before leaving England for a new home in Australia.

Australia Bound: All the Veal family shortly before leaving England for a new home in Australia.

Eileen was born in Liverpool, United Kingdom, on January 3, 1915, the second of four children of Archibald and Mary Moyes.

Family time: Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gather for Eileen Veal's 103rd birthday celebration.

Family time: Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gather for Eileen Veal's 103rd birthday celebration.

One of her daughters, Judith Dunn, shares the story of a “wonderful home maker and great mum.”

“She was raised by her grandparents in Ireland –that often happened in those days when children were born close together,” she said.

“Mum went to school in Ireland until she was 13 and then moved back to her parents in Dover where she was immediately put into service as the sole servant looking after a household and a five-month-old baby.”

Eileen met Eric Veal and the couple were married in February 1938. They had seven children, two sons and five daughters. Mrs Dunn said that by 1959 England was still depressed after the war and rationing continued.

“My parents saw Australia as a place of opportunity so they called a family conference to decide whether they would relocate,” she said. “They wanted everyone to have their say –Dad said that either we all go to Australia or we all stay in the UK. He didn’t want to split the family.”

The decision was made to relocate to Australia with the family first making its home in Sydney before moving to Bowral about 50 years ago.

Mrs Dunn said her mother became an active member of the Southern Highlands community involved in Girl Guides, Scouts and as a regular entrant in various categories at the Moss Vale Show including cooking and sewing. “She won many prizes including the awards for best fruit cake and best bucket of compost on one occasion,” Mrs Dunn said. “She was also very active playing netball and gymnastics.” 

Eileen became a widow in 1996 when Eric passed away at the age of 85. She continued to live independently until she was 98, at which time she moved into HarbisonCare, Moss Vale.

Mrs Dunn, said apart from failed hearing her mother “still had her wits about her.” She said the mother of seven, grandmother of 14 and great grandmother of 23 always wanted to know what the members of her family were doing. “She is also interested in politics and a current affairs and she loves to watch the Parramatta Eels play.”

Eileen celebrated her 103rd birthday at a lunch with her daughters, who she still calls “the girls”, and their husbands. This was followed by afternoon tea with the extended family.

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Mum wearing silver medal as a gymnast in 1934.  Eileen Moyes on right

Mum wearing silver medal as a gymnast in 1934. Eileen Moyes on right