Protheroe House resident Imogene Robinson recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Imogene was one of the first residents at Protheroe House, Season Senior Living’s scheme in Tottenham, having lived there since October 2016. Staff, residents, family and friends enjoyed a wonderful birthday celebration and Alice Williams, Dementia and Activities Coordinator at Protheroe House, interviewed Imogene to find out about her story.
Tell us about yourself…
Imogene: “I was born on 13 April 1918 and grew up in Jamaica, the tenth child of 13 children, 10 girls and 3 boys, my brothers sadly all died in infancy. My father was half Cuban, he had a small holding or farm with animals, he died when I was 10. I was always close to my mother. My parents met at church and my mother was very young when they married. My earliest memory was going to church, we all grew up in the church, one of my sisters played the church organ. When my father died I was sent to live with my older sister who was then married, but it didn’t work out, as I was missing a lot of school, so my mother took me back.
In Jamaica I worked as a house keeper for a Scottish family, who worked in management at the local sugar factory. I got married during that time. I came to England in 1961. Coming to this country helped me to become more independent financially. My first job was in a laundrette weighing the bags of clothes. I later worked as an orderly nurse but retired early due to a health problem, made worse by an injury from an accident; I was knocked over by a car when crossing the road.
In those days in Tottenham you could always leave your door open you felt very safe. Things felt cheaper, labour was cheap too. I belong to the New Testament Church of God which is a community I cherish. My faith means I am not afraid of death, when your time is up, your time is up!”
You recently celebrated your 100th birthday. How was the party?
I had three celebrations and received 142 cards, which included one from the Queen, a message from the Prime Minister, and Seth George Ramocan the Jamaican High Commissioner. My main party was held at Protheroe House. There were so many birthday cakes, there was a harpist, a DJ, friends, family and staff. Everybody was dancing and I think we all had a great time! That same weekend I had a limousine ride around the sites of London on the way to my church. At church I had another celebratory service and birthday lunch with a speech from Seth George Ramocan. It was very special.
What do you like about Protheroe House?
I really enjoy living here and am very satisfied with everything. I have been living at Protheroe House since 2016 and have made some good friends. I am very proud of my flat which I like to always keep tidy and spotless.
What is the secret of your longevity and good health?
My faith is very important to me. I think it is about not being judgmental, keeping good company, having a love of people. I don’t bare grudges. I live simply, I don’t use cosmetics, I like tidiness and I keep occupied. I love gardening if it is about growing vegetables and still enjoy cooking.
What advice would you give to a young person?
To not be judgmental, keep good company, care about people, serve God.
What is your typical day like?
I pray when I wake up, carers come and give me breakfast and help me make the bed, I then shower and get dressed. Depending on which day it is I sort out my shopping list with the carers. I often prepare my own cooked food for lunch. In the morning I generally make some phone calls to my friends and family.
Before my 100th birthday I was attending lots of activities such as the exercise class, art and card making, gardening in the summer months. Recently I prefer activities such as the discussion and reflection group on Thursdays where we talk about current topics, share our opinions with some reflection, also I enjoy singing and music but I have glaucoma so this makes it difficult to see clearly.
On Thursdays we usually have a resident lunch, otherwise I go back to my flat for lunch. In the afternoon, I may make some more phone calls or relax and watch tv or do my paperwork. I go down to dinner at 5pm. After dinner I will go to the cinema club if it is a Tuesday evening: I love watching films. I always listen to my radio in my bedroom before going to bed around 10 pm.”