A Ballymoney lady who just celebrated her 100th birthday has put the secret of her longevity down to hard work, clean living and taking an interest in those less fortunate than herself.
Mollie Holmes OBE was independent mayor of Ballymoney from 1977 to 1985 and served as a councillor from 1955 to 1985 – the first woman on Ballymoney Urban Council.
“The secret of my long life is a hard working, clean life and if I have been able to help anyone less fortunate than me then I will deem that my life has not been in vain,” she said.
Asked if she followed any special regime, she answers that she “always liked good plain food”.
Another key factor is “a great interest in life and what is going on around me. We read the News Letter every day on the iPad.”
She still walks normally but uses a cane for stability.
“I lost my husband Harold quite early  but the Lord left me with my son – my mainstay.”
Her son and carer James, a retired dairy lorry driver, is a sprightly 67 himself.
Growing up she cared for her own parents and later her husband and son.
Asked what age she feels, she replies: “I would like to think I am about 70. I have to give thanks to the Lord for my health and the inspiration to go on and help others.”
In terms of her hundred years of life, the biggest change she notices is the cars, trains and planes.
“When I was a girl you thought you were someone when your father drove you into town in the pony and trap.”
However, not all the changes she likes.
“I don’t like trouble, I like things peaceful. It is very sad to see these countries upsetting things now.”
And resilient genes certainly run in the family. Her brother Archie Hart still runs his butchers on the Main Street in Ballymoney, aged 92.
North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey paid tribute to Ballymoney’s ‘First Freeman’ saying she was synonymous with “all that is good” about Ballymoney.
“Her great personal character and friendly charm are unmatched,” he said.
“Even in her centenary year she continues her involvement with the Robinson Hospital Committee, the Ballymoney Evergreen Club, the Road Safety Committee and the Royal British Legion.”