Tiny party but lots of love for new centenarian

It might not have been the usual celebration but there was still plenty of love for Gwen Cook on her milestone birthday.

Restrictions on visits to aged care homes due to coronavirus control measures meant the party for Gwen’s big 100th birthday today was a small affair.

Gwen’s family was there in spirit – and joined in the revelry thanks to technology – to help the Carinity Cedarbrook resident celebrate 100 fabulous years.

One of Gwen’s five granddaughters, Lisa Wappett, attended a tiny party with a handful of staff of the aged care community at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast.

Other family members, including Gwen’s daughter Janice Peters, granddaughter Nicole Peters and great-granddaughter Kaycee Peters, listened in to the fun and sang Happy Birthday to Gwen through a mobile phone on speaker.

“Thank you to everyone who has made my 100th birthday so special today. I’m being looked after extremely well. My room is filled with balloons, cards, flowers, chocolates and love,” Gwen says.

“I will be catching up with all my family soon, in the meantime stay safe and well.”

Born Gweneth Cook in a hospital in Balmain on 30 March 1920, she was one of ten children – eight sisters and two brothers – born to her parents George and Elizabeth Paull.

During her youth in Sydney, Gwen worked in the retail industry.

“Before I got married, I worked in a handbag shop then I met my future husband, Herbert Cook. After getting married I worked in a dry cleaners,” Gwen recalls.

The couple had three children – Kevin, Janice and Chris, who Gwen says “can’t sit still and has moved around all this life” – and raised their family in Sydney.

When Janice and her husband moved to Queensland in 1989 to “give their family a better life”, Gwen found a new home on the Gold Coast.

“I lived in Palm Beach on my own in a one-bedroom flat. I used to go bowling, line dancing and loved playing tennis before I got too old to play,” Gwen says.

“In total I have five granddaughters, one grandson and have seven great-grandchildren – six boys and one girl.”

During her birthday celebrations Gwen enjoyed a birthday cake and received a letter from Queen Elizabeth II.

Gwen was also inducted into the ‘Carinity 100 Club’ for centenarians living in Carinity aged care and retirement communities across Queensland.

Lisa Wappett with her grandmother Gwen Cook, holding a special message for relatives on her 100th birthday.

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