Supergran with 89 grandkids celebrates 100th birthday and shares secret to long life

Jo Allan, from Middlesbrough, has claimed the secret to a happy life is ‘not to worry’ as she celebrates her 100th birthday with her 89 grandchildren and 12 children

Jo stands proud with her certificate and brooch
Jo has as many children and grandchildren as she’s had birthdays

A mum with 89 grandchildren claims a “happy frame of mind” is the secret to a long life as she marks her 100th birthday.

Mum of 12, Jo Allan, celebrated her landmark birthday with the help of her 37 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren – who also honoured for her service during the Second World War.

The former munitions factory worker from Middlesbrough, Teesside, is one of the UK’s oldest residents and was one of thousands of women who checked for bullets with faults in Aycliffe, County Durham.

At a family gathering for her 100th birthday, Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston called in to surprise her with a certificate and brooch officially recognising her as an Aycliffe Angel and thanking her for her contribution to the victory in Europe.

Jo was surrounded by members of her large family as she turned 100


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

When asked for the trick to living a long life, Jo said: “There isn’t really a secret but I do think it’s important to have a happy frame of mind and to try not to worry.”

Mr Preston said: “These women were completely uncelebrated and unrecognised for too long but this is being put right now because we should tell the story about the efforts people like Jo made supporting the brave soldiers who were doing the fighting.

“I’m sure the incredible work Jo and others did saved many lives.

“It’s time to acknowledge the efforts of all the Aycliffe Angels during the war that helped change the course of European history for the better.”

Greater Aycliffe Council surprised Jo on her birthday with some special recognition for her wartime efforts


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Jo had hoped to celebrate her centenary with the whole family in person but, despite her party being cancelled due to Covid concerns, she was left feeling very special on her big day.

As well as receiving a Royal birthday card from Her Majesty she was inundated with gifts, cards and video messages from family members as far afield as Canada, USA and Australia.

Jo was married to husband Dave for 61 years before he passed away in 2005 aged 82.

Their children include eight daughters – Pauline, Joan, Judith, Barbara, Mary, Catherine, Susan and Steph, together with sons, Doug, Bernard, Gerard and Dave.

Her oldest child is now aged 77, while her youngest great-grandchild is just five months old.

Instead of birthday presents, Jo asked friends and family to make donations to Our Hospitals Charity towards the Stroke Unit at James Cook University Hospital, where late husband Dave was treated before his passing.

The couple lived in the North East their entire lives, only moving away for a brief period during the war while Dave served as an wireless operator and air gunner at RAF Valley, Holyhead, and had a brief stint in Hereford at the end of the War.

Jo dodged a health scare two years ago and is still going strong at 100


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Despite a health scare two years ago, Jo is still going strong at her care home in Linthorpe on the outskirts of the town.

Eldest child Pauline said: “Mum has always been the most loving, interesting and energetic mother, always on the go, putting us children first and herself last.

“My earliest memory of her would have been 1947 when I came in from a walk and found Mum in the kitchen with hands and arms covered in red.

“I was terrified but it turned out she was dying someone’s old curtains for our new house.”

Eldest son Doug paid tribute to his mother and said: “She not only had 12 children but then went back to full-time work until her retirement at 65.

“Her favourite joke is that she knew what she was doing in bearing so many children – ensuring that she had sufficient carers as she grows old.

“And she often complains that Covid is preventing her from going off on holiday, which is unfair as she might not have many years left!”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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