Community helps celebrate Bessie’s 100th birthday

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: East Londoners came together last week to help Gonubie resident Bessie Crous celebrate her 100th birthday

For Gonubie resident Bessie Crous, her 100th birthday on May 12 was going to be a very special occasion.

“We had a huge party planned for her,” grand-daughter Belinda Rogerson said.

Family from all over the country were expected to attend to mark such a significant milestone.

But then the national lockdown was implemented and suddenly the birthdy celebrations were put at risk.

“With the coronavirus, obviously everything came to a grinding halt,” Rogerson said.

All was not lost, however, and Rogerson, along with her sister Sias, came up with an idea.

“On Mother’s Day, I was chatting to my sister and I said ‘We can’t let a 100th birthday go by with nothing. It’s not just another day’,” Rogerson said.

The pair then worked on a special birthday message, which Rogerson posted to her Facebook page.

The message asked that anyone who happened to be walking past their house on the day please leave a balloon, a birthday message or even a small chocolate outside to help the family celebrate this special day.

The post was originally intended just for their local community but, as Rogerson said, “it just exploded”.

The first sign of how far the message ended up reaching came when the family was putting up their birthday banners outside their house at 6.30am on the Tuesday.

Rogerson said that already people were starting to drive past and drop off gifts or hoot in support.

And it only got bigger from there.

“There were schoolkids that came and played the trumpet for her, there was a lady that came and played her guitar, somebody was playing the flute, it was incredible.

“The number of people that joined in and helped celebrate it was incredible,” Rogerson said.

“That evening at 5.30pm, the fire brigade did a drive-by with their fire engine, Red Alert, and so did a few ambulances.”

She said they were still receiving gifts on the Wednesday morning.

For Crous, one gift in particular stood out.

“A lady came on Wednesday to drop off a teddy bear for me.

“When I was a child I always longed for a teddy bear. Now I have one and it’s such a big, beautiful one.

“It was worth waiting 100 years for,” she said.


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