As the First World War was in its final months, James and Minnie Baird welcomed their first child – a daughter.
That baby girl – who grew up to become Lilian Cartwright – celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday.
Born in Kircaldy County, Scotland on April 16, 1918, it would be three years before Lilian would meet her father in person – when he finally returned home from the war.
“We turned out to be the best of friends,” she said.
The family moved to Grimsby, England, where James worked transporting fish, before James, Minnie, eight-year-old Lilian and her younger brothers Alec and Ron embarked on a six-week journey by sea to their new home in Australia.
They settled in Aberdare, and welcomed three more children – Jim (who sadly died of a brain tumour aged 10), Phillip and Carol.
As the eldest of six children, Lilian always had a lot of responsibility – and at age 14, she walked into every business on Vincent Street asking if they needed help, and soon picked up work and left school.
She worked at PG Weston’s drapers in Cessnock and Kurri Kurri for many years, and later in life worked at Fossey’s in Cessnock and Maitland, Rockmans at Maitland, and Big W Jesmond, retiring in her fifties.
Lilian married the love of her life, Arthur Cartwright, in 1941.
Two years later, on Lilian’s 25th birthday, she received the greatest gift one could imagine – a daughter, Margaret.
“I was over the moon,” she said.
The family lived in Kurri Kurri, and after Arthur passed away, Lilian moved into a retirement village at Gillieston Heights, where she lived for 24 years before moving to Living Care Greenhills in January this year.
About 90 family and friends helped Lilian celebrate her 100th birthday at the George Tavern, Greenhills on Sunday.
The mother and daughter then celebrated their birthdays with family at Peden’s Hotel on Monday.
Lilian said she didn’t feel any different waking up as a centenarian.
“I just felt good – I slept well,” she said.
She credits her longevity to hard work, wholesome meals and a good attitude – but she was still surprised to make it to triple-digits.
“It’s crept up on me,” she said.
“I thought it would be nice to get there, but I didn’t think I would.”