Log In

Reset Password

Card from King Charles as Shirley turns 100

First Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next Last
Shirley Brangman celebrating her 100th birthday (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Shirley Brangman says it is a beautiful thing to turn 100, especially when you feel as good as she does.

She celebrated a century of living on February 1 and, other than being wheelchair-bound, is in good health.

“I have been thoroughly blessed by living this long, and feeling the way I do,” she said. “I really do feel good.”

Family and friends joined her at the Sylvia Richardson Care Facility in St George’s on her big day. Many people brought gifts in purple, her favourite colour. One person even brought violet candies.

Birthday girl Shirley Brangman, right, with her daughter Belinda Tartaglia and the birthday card she received from King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort (Photograph supplied)

Her daughter, Belinda Tartaglia, surprised her with a birthday card signed by King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort.

People who turn 100 in England are automatically entitled to a birthday card from King Charles, but British subjects overseas must apply for it exactly five weeks before the birthday.

Government House put Ms Tartaglia in touch with Buckingham Palace and she was able to submit her request.

“I was excited to get that,” said Ms Brangman, whose work always kept her away from the wellwishers who lined the streets whenever the royals visited.

The single mother held down several jobs to support Ms Tartaglia and her sister, Beunice Crockwell, who died in 2019. She was a hostess at the Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club, a waitress at the Spot Restaurant and a receptionist in optician Michael Keyes's office.

Shirley Brangman’s birthday card sent by the British Royal Family (Photograph supplied)

“I worked as a receptionist for Dunkley & Pioneer Dairies in the ice cream factory for 22 years,” she said.

One day she was walking around Hamilton on her lunch break when a friend suggested she go into H. A. & E. Smith department store and talk to the company president Sir Henry Vesey, who was looking to hire.

“I knew him because he used to come in and get his ice cream and milk at Dunkley’s,” she said.

“I worked as a cashier in the ladies’ department for 16 years.”

She never imagined one day turning 100. She recalls how she once thought of 50 and 60 as “old”.

Her son-in-law, John Tartaglia, teases her that she is “100 but not out”.

“I played cricket a little bit when I was little, but that was not my game,” she said. “I used to like to go to cricket matches to watch.”

Most of the draw came from the socialising.

“I loved to party and dance, and just enjoy life and be happy,” she said.

Birthday girl Shirley Brangman, right, with her god daughter Venetta Symonds (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Dancing has been one of her passions; she did it well into her eighties.

In her younger days she often did ballroom dancing in hotels, sometimes winning competitions.

“I used to dance every night besides Sunday,” she said. “I am only too sorry that my legs are not strong enough to dance any more. When they have socials here I am not able to get up out of the wheelchair but I enjoy myself. I really do.”

She attributes her long life to “eating right and thinking right”.

She has a strong religious faith.

“The secret is believing in the Almighty,” she said. “Also, coming along as a child, I never had anything out of a can. Everything we ate was fresh. I think that made a big difference.”

She went to live at Sylvia Richardson in 2019, intending to stay only a month.

“I loved the people and the company, so I decided to stay,” she said.

Despite being extroverted she said the strict social-distancing measures for rest home residents during the pandemic was not a hardship for her.

“Some people were fussing because there was a lockdown but it did not bother me,” she said. “I do a lot of knitting and crochet. I make hats and scarves.”

But she was disappointed that she could not physically go to church services.

“Now a couple of people on my floor and myself get together on a Sunday,” she said.

Shirley Brangman with her family on her birthday on February 1 (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

She also carefully peruses every newspaper that her daughter brings her.

“I do not turn on the television to watch the news,” she said. “I would rather read about it. Sometimes other people say, ‘Oh, is that today’s news?’ I say ‘No, it’s from last week Tuesday, but it is news to me.’”

When she was little her parents, Adelia and Shirley Robinson, moved to New York to work, so she was raised largely by her grandparents on Laffan Street in Hamilton.

She was 16 when the Second World War broke out.

“All the butter and sugar was rationed,” she remembered. “You could only get a pound of butter if there were four or more people in the family.”

She lived in a house of five so they qualified.

“Times were lean and we had to be so careful,“ she said.

Ms Brangman was never the type of person to be unhappy because “this or that was not right”.

“I don’t get upset over things like that,” she said. “I just enjoy each day that the good Lord gives me. I wake up and every day is my birthday.”

Her advice to today’s young people is: “Try your best and keep close to the Almighty. That is the best advice that I can think of. Young people forget there is a God. But it is only the Almighty that brings us to where we are and opens our eyes every morning. Be grateful for each day.”

She has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published February 08, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 09, 2023 at 8:07 am)

Card from King Charles as Shirley turns 100

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon