TRAVELLING the world and taking an interest in everything are Jean Blackmore’s recipes for a long and healthy life.
Celebrating her 100th birthday with 66 guests at the Birch Trees Nursing Home in Midhurst, she said if she hadn’t broken her hip, she would still be taking trips abroad.
Jean’s secret to a happy life is: “Take an interest in everything, don’t hide yourself away, and if possible, travel the world.”
Still taking an interest in everything around her, she is a great supporter of a children’s hospice.
Telling everyone she had everything she needed, she asked for donations to the Chestnut Tree Hospice instead of birthday gifts.
“I didn’t want a lot of presents, but thought it was far better to give the money to a good cause.”
Jean was born in Odessa, Russia, to British parents, and in 1916 her family fled because of the revolution.
They left by cattle train, but were robbed of their belongings by brigands. Fortunately Jean’s mother had secreted her jewellery in the lining of several fur coats, so they escaped with most of their valuables.
After a spell in Paris, the family returned to live in Beckenham and in 1937, Jean married her first husband, with whom she had a son and daughter.
She later married Hilary Blackmore, managing director of London department store Liberty, and until he retired they would visit Paris, Milan and New York.
Jean has lived in Midhurst for more than 55 years and used to help with Meals on Wheels, and drive the hospital car service and tandem until she was well into her 80s.
She spent a year living with a family in France, where she took up dressmaking, but was ‘hopeless’ – ‘I never finished a job’ – and fell in love with a Frenchman. She still wears the bracelet he bought her.
Jean later returned to France for a road trip with her friend Connie, never booking a hotel or making plans.
“We just pitched up with a picnic and stayed somewhere different every night.”
After her husband died, Jean joined a travellers’ club, visiting destinations including Hong Kong, South Africa and Thailand.
She also credits her good health to an active lifestyle, playing tennis, horse riding, fishing, snorkelling, eating moules marinière – ‘I could eat them every day’ – and having a drink of vodka or wine with her family.
Jean’s son Michael said: “By the time you have reached Jean’s age, there is little that you need so she asked people to make a donation to children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House, which she has supported for some time.”
You can visit Jean’s Just Giving page at Just Giving Jean Blackmore