Wales' oldest woman reveals secret to a long life after celebrating 110th birthday

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Jess Main

Mary Keir has seen an awful lot in her time. At 110 years old, she is believed to be Wales’ oldest woman. 

Born in March 1912, she is now officially a ‘supercentenarian’, and has all the stories to prove it. 

Fiercely independent, Mrs Keir lived on her own until the age of 99, but for the past 10 years has been a resident at Awel Tywi Care Home in Llandeilo.

“I like to be independent”, she said.

“When I came here first, I don’t think they were used to someone being so independent. I wash myself, put things away, make my own bed.

“Now it’s a bit of a struggle to get down to my feet and that sort of thing but they’re good to me here, very good.”

Mary is a retired nurse, and spent a large part of her career as a ward sister at Llandough Hospital outside Cardiff, working as a nurse before, during and after the Second World War. 

Mary can now claim the title of 'supercentenarian', which is someone who has reached the age of 110.

Recalling the moment she witnessed bombs falling on the hospital, she says she’s lucky to be alive today.

She said: "It whistled as it came down from the plane, and I remember saying to myself ‘oh god, this is my end.’

“There was an almighty smash, terrible sound, all the glass about 60 windows, smashed to smithereens."

Originally from St Davids in Pembrokeshire, Mary later lived in Llansteffan in Carmarthenshire, next door to her son Robert, who celebrated his 70th birthday last week.

Mary keeps busy by playing the keyboard, reading the paper, and writing to friends.

When asked what the secret is to staying young, Mary told me it was all about keeping your brain busy.

She said: “The secret is to never be without thinking, reading, what I call keeping the brain busy.

“They say that experience dictates knowledge and validates it. If you don’t know something find out, never let yourself flop.

“Simply use the brain, think, and always keep thinking.”

Mary lived independently until she was 99 years old and moved into a care home in Llandeilo.

Mary says these days she keeps herself busy playing the keyboard, reading the paper, and writing to friends.

In December 2020 she became one of the first care home residents in Wales to receive a Covid vaccine.

Speaking to her, for just a few hours, was a true pleasure.