A centenarian made a bit of history at a care home in Gwynedd.
Kathlyn Hughes was the first resident at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd home on the outskirts of Caernarfon to celebrate their 100th birthday there.
Staff and family members organised a surprise party with balloon arches, bunting and flowers.
The home’s chef, made a birthday cake, and she received a large number of cards, including the one from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Kathlyn, who hails from the Blaenau Ffestiniog area, celebrated her very special day in the company of her son, Michael and grandson Aled, who had travelled from their home in mid-Wales to be with Kathlyn.
Sadly, her other son, David, and his family who live on Anglesey, were unable to attend the celebrations after testing positive for Covid-19 in the days leading up to her birthday. They plan to visit Kathlyn once they have recovered.
She had no idea the celebration was being planned and was delighted when the surprise was sprung by staff.
Kathlyn said: “I had no idea this was going to happen. The staff have been so busy preparing for this and I am so grateful. This is such a nice surprise. Thank you very much everyone.”
Michael said: “We really do appreciate the hard work being done here at Bryn Seiont Newydd with my mother and our thanks, as a family, goes to everyone who has helped put on this birthday celebration.”
Audrey Phillips, a member of Bryn Seiont Newydd’s Enrichment team, said: “Everyone at Bryn Seiont Newydd was thrilled to help Joyce celebrate her 100th birthday.
“Kathlyn is a warm and wonderful lady, so we wanted to celebrate her birthday with this big surprise party.
“I can’t thank my team and Kathlyn’s family enough for their dedication in making this happen.”
Kathlyn is the first resident at Bryn Seiont Newydd to reach the milestone birthday since it first opened its doors to residents nearly seven years ago.
She was born on a Sunday and Welshman David Lloyd George was still in residence at 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister and King George V, the current Queen’s grandfather, was the monarch.
Movie goers flocked that day to picture houses to see the newly released movie Blackpool and the 1922 Tour de France got underway with a stage from Paris to Le Havre.
She was raised at Tyddyn Gwyn Terrace, Manod, Blaenau Ffestiniog by her parents Arthur Eric and Ellen Ann Darbyshire. Her father was a master carpenter and her mother a housewife.
Kathlyn was the middle child of three with an elder brother Jack and younger brother Leslie. Her father served in the Army during World War 1 and had been gassed spending most winters in bed with bronchitis.
While her brothers went on to study at university, Kathlyn was taken out of school aged 12 years to assist with the family income by working as a housemaid.
“She aspired to become a hairdresser but her father would not condone her taking on an internship of three years without pay. Thank God that we now live in more enlightened times,” commented her son David.
Prior to World War II she worked in various shops in Blaenau Ffestiniog but during the conflict she worked in munitions factories at Reading and Newport in south Wales.
She married Gwilym Wynne Hughes in 1945, a railway man, and the couple settled in Dolgellau. They had two sons, David born in 1948 and Michael in 1956.
Owing to her husband’s work the family moved to Bala and then to Gellilydan near Blaenau Ffestiniog where her husband had started work at the Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station.
She was widowed in 1967 at the age of 45 leaving her to bring up her two sons on her own.
“At that time, she worked in the Farmers Co-Op Shop at Gellilydan and to look after us she also took on other jobs – cleaning the local primary school and local chapel,” added David.
In 1968 the family moved to New Tanymanod Terrace in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Kathlyn was soon working at several shops in the town and David said on many occasions she held down two jobs to make ends meet and to ensure that both her sons were able to attend university.
She retired from the Briggs Store in Blaenau Ffestiniog’s High Street at the age of 60 and shortly afterwards moved to Llangefni to be closer to David and his family. She moved to a newly built bungalow in 1990.
“It is to her credit that she achieved so much when all the odds were against her – initially living in rented council accommodation to eventually owning her own home.
“To achieve this, she worked very hard indeed whilst at the same time ensuring that her sons were never deprived of anything they wanted – that is to her credit. If anyone went hungry it was not her children,” added David.
During her life Kathlyn enjoyed cooking, music especially hymns and would be a regular attendee at chapels where she resided. She enjoyed gardening and would be seen in the summer weeding and tending to her garden even at the age of 98.
In her younger days she enjoyed oil painting, she was a very good seamstress and undertook alterations for some well-known men’s outfitters. A lover of animals, during her lifetime has owned dogs and cats all of which gave her great comfort during her life.
Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans added: “It is an absolute privilege to look after Kathlyn.
“She is a lovely lady and we were delighted to be able to help her celebrate reaching such a momentous milestone.”