Salisbury resident Iris, 105, cites ‘good genes and gin’ as secrets of longevity

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Iris Stowell celebrates her 105th birthday at Colten Care's Braemar Lodge care home in Salisbury. With her is Home Manager Alison Bremner, left, and Clinical Lead Jackie Cash.

One of Salisbury’s oldest residents has revealed the secrets of longevity that have enabled her to reach the remarkable age of 105.

Iris Stowell cited good genes, a little chocolate each day and an occasional gin and tonic as ingredients in her recipe for a long life.

Iris, a keen amateur artist who has exhibited her work over the years, began her birthday at Colten Care’s Braemar Lodge care home in Salisbury with a mini-pamper at the in-house hairdressing salon.

She then welcomed a Covid-safe visit from her daughter Julie, a granddaughter and great grandchildren, speaking to them all through a screen in the foyer.      

The afternoon saw a socially distanced birthday party in the lounge with talented carer Myah Hewett singing and playing some of Iris’s favourite music on the piano.

There were pieces from Germany, Spain and Italy, which Myah performed in their respective languages. 

Staff then presented Iris with a gin and tonic-flavoured cake specially baked by chefs at the Stratford Road home.

And they toasted her with champagne as she opened her cards and presents and enjoyed hearing Happy Birthday sung in her honour. 

When Iris was born in April 1916, there were still two years to go before women over the age of 30 gained the right to vote and stand for Parliament. It was another ten years before women over 21 had the same voting rights as men.

Also in spring 1916, Ernest Shackleton was exploring the Antarctic, Herbert Asquith was Prime Minister and the First World War was at its height with the German Navy launching nightly Zeppelin airship attacks on England.

When asked for her tips for later living, Iris said: “Good genes run in my family so that has undoubtedly helped. My mother lived until she was 94. Apart from that, my secret to a long and fulfilled life is to enjoy lots of chocolate and gin and tonic.”

Iris has lived in the Salisbury area since she and her husband Bob moved to the nearby village of Pitton in 1980 to live near Julie. She has another daughter Nicky who lives in Canada. Altogether she has three grandchildren and six great grandchildren.  

Alison Bremner, Braemar Lodge Home Manager, said: “We’re privileged to be caring for Iris and to have been able to share in her amazing achievement of becoming 105 years young. She really is a very special lady.”

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Iris Stowell celebrates her 105th birthday at Colten Care’s Braemar Lodge care home in Salisbury. With her is Home Manager Alison Bremner, left, and Clinical Lead Jackie Cash.

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