St Mary honours centenarians
HIGHGATE, St Mary:
Last week, to celebrate Centenarian Day, the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) in St Mary visited the homes of 100-year-old residents Zarada Thompson and Ethlyn Henry to surprise them with accolades and gifts.
Thompson is a humorous and quick-witted woman who was born on August 19, 1916 and hails from Palmetto Grove, in central St Mary, 10 miles west of Highgate.
In the mid-1960s, she relocated to Port Maria and laboured in a range of jobs, including working for the developer Griffiths, who built the Port Maria Housing Scheme in the area formerly known as Mona, where Thompson currently resides.
She told Rural Xpress, "I was born sometime in August, but I don't remember when because it was so long ago (laughs). I was born in Palmetto Grove in St Mary, and my mother was Josephine Scott and my grandmother was Cameron. I remember what I can, I'm not telling no untruth; untruth nuh good.
"As a little child, I went to Palmetto Grove Junior and Secondary School and then to Woodside School. The thing I remember most is that every day we went to school, thank you Jesus. We used to do all kinds of things because dem tek mi fi all teacher; dem tek mi fi everyt'ing. They used to call me to teach class sometimes and we would teach one another."
Thompson, who is a former missionary of the Pentecostal Church, believes faith in God and a nourishing diet are essential for longevity. She said: "The reason I've lived so long is because God is in my soul and I hold on to His hand (laughs). Of course, the food has helped because I eat good food. I remember mi used to get good porridge and cow's milk from mi small, but my favourites are banana, yam, and pork (laughs)."
Meanwhile, Henry, who lives in Lucky Hill, was born on November 27, 1916, and as a young person travelled with her sailor father to destinations such as England and Spain. She went on to have 11 children, 22 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren, and is a popular, community-focused Seventh-day Adventist.
Speaking after the visits, the NCSC's organiser for St Mary, Simone Granston, said it was important and appropriate that centenarians such as Thompson and Henry are honoured for their contributions to society.
"Every year on May 20, we celebrate Centenarian Day because 100 is a milestone, so this is one of the mediums we use to highlight and recognise them," she said. "It was an eventful day with lots of surprises. Henry was reserved, observant, and didn't speak much; but Thompson was outspoken, vibrant, sarcastic and knowledgeable, and can easily recall things from 50 years ago."