You’re only 88 once – and for Newport resident Eileen Clark the big day fell on Saturday, August 17. Like most of us Eileen wanted her friends and family around her to celebrate, so a couple of days beforehand she had a ‘really lovely’ party at home with all her nearest and dearest. That over and done with the real celebrations got underway.
The name Rose spans five generations of Eileen’s family, originating with her Italian aunt. It’s Eileen and her daughter Julie’s middle name, it appears on the birth certificates of four of her grand-daughters, and little Lily Rose, one of her 13 great-grandchildren also bears the traditional family name.
Many great-grandmothers would purse their lips at the very idea of younger generations getting tattoos. Not Eileen, she decided if you can’t beat them, you shouldn’t just join them – why not outdo them? “Some of the girls have a rose tattoo” she says: “but they’re black outlines, I wanted a red one.” So on Friday, the day before her birthday she got exactly what she wanted, a bright red rose tattoo on her hand. Asked if it hurt she says: “Not much, but it was a bit sore over the knuckle. I only swore once.”
Party over, tattoo healing nicely, Saturday dawned. What next? Eileen had never in her life ridden a horse, and on her birthday she quite fancied putting that right. With around 30 of her friends and family she set off to the Island Riding Centre. Meeting handsome skewbald Warburton, Eileen was instantly smitten and looking forward to her ride around the paddock. However, mounting him was not straightforward. “You see I’m quite small and the steps weren’t very high”, Eileen explains “so my son and grandson hoiked me up on his back. After that it was lovely, I really enjoyed it.”
Another family party followed to round off her birthday, this time at Bluebells Café, at Briddlesford Lodge Farm which Eileen loved. “We had tea and delicious cakes and I had a wonderful time with all my family around me. Just right to round off the day.”
Her daughter Julie summed things up: “My Mum is the hub of our family, and one of the most funny, caring women I’ve ever known. She has an amazing zest for life and the will to do so much more. She inspires us all and we will make possible everything she wants to do – within reason. We’ve already had to veto a parachute jump and wing-walking!’
So, with these new experiences under her belt, is there anything else on Eileen’s bucket list? “Well I’ve never ridden a motorbike” she muses. Time will tell whether the family think that’s ‘within reason’.