Centenarian Isobel marks 103rd birthday

Isobel Foster celebrating her 103rd birthday at Killowen House with Brenda Cunningham, manager, and staff members Jeanette Doherty and Ashleigh Redding. INCR8-301PL
Isobel Foster celebrating her 103rd birthday at Killowen House with Brenda Cunningham, manager, and staff members Jeanette Doherty and Ashleigh Redding. INCR8-301PL

One of the borough’s oldest residents celebrated her 103rd birthday on Sunday.

Isobel Foster has been a resident of Killowen House for the past 14 years, but the woman, born in Ballyrashane, has enjoyed a fascinating life.

Last week, Isobel revealed that she had spent time in South Africa and in Argentina working alongside her husband, who was Chaplain of the Missions to Seamen charity.

Isobel was married to Rev James Foster who was a vicar in the Church of England. Rev Foster’s role as the charity’s chaplain took the pair, who had no children, to Durban in South Africa where they aided injured officers of naval and merchant ships.

“At that time, ships would come into the harbour damaged from the War. The naval men would also be injured so the charity looked after them until they were fit to go back onto the ship again,” she explained.

Isobel also spent three-and-a-half years in Argentina, but failing health saw the couple moving back to Bradford in England.

After the death of her husband at just 53, Isobel obtained a job at a boys boarding school in Essex.

There she worked for ten years, before moving back to Northern Ireland to look after her sister: “I loved that job in the school,” she recalled. “I took care of 100 boarders aged from 11 to 18, they were a great bunch, and I grew very fond of them.”

Isobel says that the secret to a long life is happiness, she paid tribute to the staff at Killowen House for looking after her: “This is my home now, and I am very happy here,” she said. “I thank God for a good long life and a healthy and happy life.”