NI’s ‘oldest married couple’ going strong

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Media captionThe pair of 100-year-olds are still in love after 76 years

Nellie Graham is celebrating her 100th birthday and she is in good company.

Her husband, Joe, marked the same milestone last August.

The County Antrim pair, who still live independently at their Randalstown bungalow, are thought to be Northern Ireland’s oldest married couple.

Married on 23 September 1942 in the middle of World War Two, this year marks their 77th wedding anniversary.

They met at school and have been inseparable ever since.

Image caption Mr and Mrs Graham share a kiss

Mrs Graham celebrated her century at a family party at the weekend – surrounded by her 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Any secrets?

So what’s the answer to the question everyone wants to know – the secret to such a long and healthy life?

“I don’t know any secret, just hard work,” she says.

A keen baker, Mrs Graham still does all the cooking and cleaning for the couple, but takes a break every Friday to get her hair done.

Image caption Mrs Graham says she and her husband always make up after a row

She has spent just one night in hospital for a minor ailment in her 10 decades.

Mr Graham is in poorer health, so his wife cares for him every day, and gets up at 07:00 every day to make him porridge for breakfast.

‘Could be a row’

Does she have any tips for a long and happy marriage?

“I hear tell of these ones saying that they never had a row, but I couldn’t take that in,” she says.

Image caption The couple have 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren

“There could be a row between now and bedtime.

“But you always make up, certainly you do.”

On how she feels to be one of very few married couples to have reached 100, Mrs Graham says: “Well anyone we would talk to have never known a couple, they’ve known one, but not a couple, so this will go down in the records.

“It doesn’t make us feel any different – doesn’t make us feel any younger or any older.

Image caption David Graham says he has picked up some advice from his mother and father on living a long life

“You’re as young as you feel,” she adds.

The couple’s eldest son David is a very youthful looking 76.

He says he couldn’t be prouder of his parents: “I suppose we’re one of the most unique families in Northern Ireland.”

Of his parents’ marriage that has spanned more than seven decades, he says: “Father has slowed down a bit, but he never gets a chance to talk, she does all the talking for him and her both.”

Mr Graham says he has picked up some advice from his mother and father on living a long life.

“Just keep going no matter what befalls you, just keep motoring on, do what you do every day and get on with it,” he says.

“A doctor told me one day I’d live to 150.

“I said: ‘I don’t think so, unless there’s a miracle cure along the way.’

“But I suppose the genes are quite strong.”

Could living in Randalstown be the secret behind those strong genes?

“I don’t know if there’s something in the air or what, but it seems to work for this pair anyway,” says Mr Graham.

“They’re unbelievable and we don’t know how lucky we are to have them.”

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-48121313

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