She might be 100 years old, but chirpy Irene Stoddart still loves nothing more than losing herself in a best-selling thriller, going to see the latest blockbuster movie – or the satisfaction of completing a challenging crossword.
And thanks to doctors at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who discovered and treated a sight-threatening eye condition, the former teacher is still able to indulge in these simple pursuits she believes help her to stay as sharp as a pin!
“If you don’t use it, you lose it and reading is so important to me!” says the witty centenarian.
“It is one of the main things in my life. To be able to continue to read means so much.
“I’m just so grateful to the doctors who’ve enabled me to keep my sight. Bearing in mind my age, the fact the NHS is still willing to do this for me is amazing.”
Bearing in mind my age, the fact the NHS is still willing to do this for me is amazing!”
For this reason, in celebration of her centenary year, Irene is keen to raise awareness of the importance of retinal screening, which helped to identify her age-related macular degeneration 10 years ago, following a routine check-up for cataracts.
She has also made a generous donation to the retinal development fund – and personally thanked consultant Dr Sridhar Manvikar at The Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
Irene, who “doesn’t do chick-lit” – but has devoured the entire ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ series of thrillers and the Robert Harris Cicero trilogy – said: “I have Lucentis injections into my eyes every month.
“They are supposed to just slow the condition down, but in my case, my eyes have improved according to Mr Manvikar.
“I’m just so grateful. I know the demands on the NHS and, living longer, I’m demanding even more.”
Thanks to the treatment, Irene, who taught at the former Henry Smith Grammar School in Hartlepool, is still able to buy The Telegraph on a Saturday, complete the big crossword and read her “favourite” book review and gardening sections.
On the rare occasion a crossword clue does leave her stumped, she loves nothing more than researching any answers in one of her many books.
She also remains active with the odd spot of gardening – including the back-breaking demands of weeding and pruning – and maintains an active social life, including going to the cinema regularly.
She is also quite the film critic.
“The last film I saw was the new Dad’s Army, but it wasn’t as good as the TV show,” she said.
Irene, who initially went to The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough for check-ups 10 years ago is now pleased to be able to have her appointments closer to home at The Friarage in Northallerton.
She said: “The importance of being able to come here for treatment as opposed to James Cook is immeasurable.”
Dr Manvikar, who looks after Irene, said: “In spite of having to wait to be seen in the busy eye clinics, she has always been very cheerful and has never once complained.
“She has a very positive attitude to life which is very infectious. We in the eye department feel privileged to be looking after her eyesight that has allowed her to keep her independence.
“While congratulating her on her centenary birthday, we would like to thank her for her noble gesture of making a donation to the retinal development fund to mark this milestone. We wish her all the very best in life and many more years of good health.”