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‘Phenomenal’ Ismay marks milestone birthday

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Ismay Anderson Steede has always loved playing bingo.

True to form, the great-great-grandmother showed off her skills at a special bingo-themed party on Saturday in celebration of her 100th birthday.

Surrounded by her friends and family, the afternoon of games, music, dancing and dark ‘n' stormies in King's Square in St George kick-started a week of festivities in her honour.

“I am doing pretty good today,” Ms Steede said. “It surprised me to see all these folks. When I came down here, I didn't expect all of this.”

Ms Steede, a mother of 12 who has 43 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and 24 great-great-grandchildren, is a well-known member of the St George's community.

She arrived by horse and carriage and was soon being congratulated by dozens of friends and family members.

Ms Steede was born on January 12 in 1916 and, aside from a few more “aches and pains”, she said she feels no different.

She still enjoys playing bingo at Spanish Point Boat Club and BAA in Hamilton.

Francine Trott, Ms Steede's eleventh child, said that because of her mother's love for the game, the family opted to have the party in the square and invite all her bingo friends. She said the Town of St George had been very supportive and had donated plenty of prizes.

“She has been playing bingo for years,” added Senator Renee Ming, Ms Steede's oldest great-granddaughter.

Ms Ming described Ms Steede, who also raised many of her children's children, as a “very wise and thought-provoking woman”.

“She is very much into her family,” she added. “She instils a lot of family tradition in us.”

Leslie Ming, Ms Steede's oldest son, described her as a “great mother”.

“She's a good person,” said Quillard Aikens, Ms Steede's oldest daughter. “She's good to have around you all the time.”

St George's councillor Phillip Anderson, Ms Steede's youngest son, said it was a great honour and a great day to celebrate his mother, adding: “You can definitely see how this reaches out to the community.”

Jari Ming, 20, is Ms Steede's oldest great-great-grandson. He said: “For me, she is phenomenal. She is one of the most content and humble people you will ever meet.

“She is a role model. If I ever make it to her age, I hope to be half the person she is.”

Ms Steede's granddaughter, Rodericka Freeman, added: “She's a wise lady, very wise and family oriented.

“She has a big heart and is always willing to give.”

She said it was an overwhelming feeling to see her grandmother reach the milestone age of 100.

Joye Outerbridge has been a close friend of Ms Steede for many years.

“As soon as she showed up today I was in tears. I was so proud of her,” Ms Outerbridge said. “She's like a foster mother to me.”

Ms Outerbridge spends a lot of her week with Ms Steede, running errands and going for drives to get her “out of the house”. But she said that Ms Steede was still very active and independent, adding that “she has all the faculties”.

Special shirts designed by one of Ms Steede's granddaughters were printed for the celebration and were worn by her family members.

The black and gold design mirrored the ingredients of her favourite drink, the dark ‘n' stormy, for which Ms Steede credits her longevity.

After hearing about her fondness for the cocktail, Gosling's pitched in and provided ingredients and merchandise “to help make her birthday as special as possible”.

The former managing director of Gosling Brothers, Ted Gosling, set up a makeshift bar in the square.

“From what I have learnt in a short time, Ismay sounds like a really amazing person and we are honoured by her enjoyment and support of Gosling's dark ‘n' stormies,” he said.

• View the full photo gallery here

Party time: Ismay Anderson Steede is embraced by her oldest son, Leslie Ming, as she arrives at King's Square for her 100th birthday celebration (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Devoted to her family: Ismay Anderson Steede with her oldest daughter, Quillard Aikens, and her oldest son, Leslie Ming (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Paying tribute: a banner marks Ismay Anderson Steede's 100th birthday at King's Square (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Warm welcome: Ismay Anderson Steede is greeted by Town Crier David Frith as she arrives in King's Square by horse and carriage (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Drawing attention: Town Crier David Frith announces the arrival of Ismay Anderson Steede at King's Square (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Birthday gift: Marc Bean, the Leader of the Opposition, presents Ismay Anderson Steede with flowers for her 100th birthday during her party at King's Square, St George (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published January 11, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated January 11, 2016 at 8:15 am)

‘Phenomenal’ Ismay marks milestone birthday

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