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Birthday Card Plea Delights 100-Year-Old Jo

More than 250 messages of congratulations greeted a ‘wonderful’ lady on her centenary after her Winchester dementia care home issued an appeal for people to send in birthday cards.

Great great grandmother Jo Gough, described as ‘full of character’, was astonished with her birthday maildrop at Colten Care’s St Catherines View.

The home’s Companionship Team Leader Laura Sheldrake called for as many cards as possible to be sent in to help Jo celebrate her landmark day.

As well as local and UK well-wishers, people responded to the Facebook plea from across the world including Thailand, Budapest, Connecticut in the USA, Moscow, Guernsey and Jersey.

Children and staff at Winchester’s Harestock Primary School and the team at Happy Day’s Childcare in South Wonston were among nearby respondents.

In the run-up to Jo’s big day, a total of 258 cards were delivered to St Catherines View, all carefully stored out of sight ready for the presentation.

Laura said: “Jo is such a wonderful person and full of character and we wanted to show her how much we all care for her. I explained in the appeal that she loves the colour turquoise, the garden and music, and indeed many of the cards reflected those themes. I also wanted to get cards from lots of countries as Jo travelled extensively in her younger years.

“Jo has been with us for three years. Because of the pandemic, there have been tough periods for her and fellow residents. Jo was very active before, going on regular walks with her daughter, but like everyone else, she had to live through restrictions on visiting which was very hard for her.

“I knew that if she had lots of cards, she would love reading them at her own pace and enjoy the congratulations from strangers. In the appeal I said reaching 100 is an achievement in itself and it would mean the world to her, her family and the staff here if we could show her how much she deserves this attention.

“On the day, Jo was over the moon with her birthday cards and could not believe they were all for her. She also can’t believe she is 100, and we could not agree more.”

When asked what her secret of longevity is, Jo replied: “My family, they’ve always kept me on my toes”. She has five children, plus grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.

As well as cards from the birthday appeal, Jo received the traditional royal greeting card reserved for centenarians, now sent on behalf of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla.

Laura added: “Jo spent a long time just reading the card over and commenting on how lovely it looked with the gold cord running down the middle.”

The birthday celebration featured a ‘British tea party’ with cakes specially baked by Jo’s daughter Sharon and St Catherines View Chef Jemelle Allolor.