A very happy birthday to Mrs Sally McCallum, a faithful parishioner of St Simon’s, Belfast, who celebrated her 100th birthday on March 2.
Among the visitors to Sally’s home in the Donegall Road area was her rector the Rev Paul Jack, and the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.
Mrs Moira Thom, President of Connor MU, also called in with a beautiful cake from the MU, a recognition of the contribution Sally, a founder member of St Simon’s MU, has made to the organisation over many years.
Born Sally Palmer in Ballyeastboro, Portavogie, on March 2 1909, Sally married Robert McCallum when she was 19, and the couple moved first to the Ormeau Road before moving into her current home in 1938. She joined the MU that same year.
Sally, a housewife all her life, and Robert, a shoemaker, had two children. Ann is now 79 and lives with her husband Lionel Savin in the Upper Malone area, while James, now 76, still lives with his mother.
Although her hearing and eyesight aren’t quite what they used to be Sally enjoys excellent health, and likes nothing more than to spend time with her two grand daughters and eight great grandchildren.
Ann said Sally was always a wonderful homemaker, renowned for her baking talents. “She used to feed half the street with her bread and stews,” said Ann. “She made wonderful soda bread on the griddle. She kept baking until she was 80 when the house was modernised and the gas taken out.
“She wasn’t afraid of hard work. She would have stood in the yard in all weathers with a big bath full of water and a couple of glass boards doing the washing.”
Although she has lived most of her life in Belfast, Sally has travelled with the family to Germany. Torquay and the Isle of Man were also favourite holiday destinations. She never learned to drive.
In her MU role, she was a visiting member calling at the hospitals until she was well into her 80s and also ran the ‘tea account’ for many years.
Sally has been a widow since Robert died, aged 90, on her birthday in 1996. She still attends services and MU meetings at St Simon’s regularly. “My knees are a bit sore now so I am a bit frightened to go out to walk myself,” Sally confessed. “But I get my hair done every week. James takes me out to the Lisburn Road. It is important to keep myself looking nice.” She added: “I can’t say I am happy about being 100 but I have to get on with it!”
Looking back at her childhood Sally said: “There were nine in my family, five girls and four boys and every one gone but myself. It wasn’t easy going when we were children. I had to go and gather potatoes. I got three shillings a day working in the fields.”
Bishop Alan said he was delighted to share Sally’s birthday celebrations. “People like Sally are the backbone of the Church of Ireland,” he said. “This is someone who all her life has been a faithful communicant member. They really are the salt of the earth and it’s a delight to be with them.
“There are so many people out there with wonderful stories to tell who quietly live a good life and get on with their faith, which in Sally’s case is a deep faith.”