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Delighted Nan all smiles as Tandragee family refuse to let pandemic halt 90th birthday celebration

'It was a lovely surprise for mummy. She knew nothing about it because she has only been talking to people through the window'

Tandragee Lily Atchinson
Picture by Marie Allen of Nan's 90th birthday with family and friends social-distancing

A Tandragee woman celebrated her 90th birthday in style this week despite the current situation with Covid-19.

Friends and family joined to wish Lily Acheson many happy returns on Wednesday.

She was greeted by piper, Jamie Gibson, performing tunes including Amazing Grace and Happy Birthday, whilst her great granddaughters Courtney and Jamie-Lee added a flourish.

Speaking to Armagh I, Lily’s daughter, Beth Wilson, said she did not want to let the big occasion simply pass.

She explained: “Mum has been confined to the house and with this pandemic it is quite hard to know how to celebrate a 90th birthday.

“I just thought, well my granddaughters are drum majors and I thought if I could get a piper, we could really celebrate. It was really quick, I only thought about it last Friday and her birthday was on Wednesday.”

Centre: Daughter Beth Wilson, Lilly Acheson, son Tom Acheson and daughter in law Christine. Below : Granddaughter Carole Bell Back row L to R great grandson Lewis Wilson, granddaughter in law Lee-Anne Wilson, grandson Colin Wilson
Front row L to R great granddaughters Courtney, Jamie-Lee and Chloe Wilson. Extreme right brother in law Billy Acheson and his dog Sandy.

Lily had been isolating in her home and Beth and her brother, Tom Acheson, had been calling in to help out, but the rest of the family had only spoken to her through the window.

Beth said: “Although in that photo it looks like we are all on top of one another, we are making sure to keep our distance. It was a lovely surprise for mummy. She knew nothing about it because she has only been talking to people through the window.

“It was so nice and she really was appreciative. She loves pipe music, that was a neighbour actually, he is in a band. She is a very much loved woman. A lot of people came, self-distancing. She knew every one of them and she couldn’t get over it. I just said to her ‘that’s what it is to be such a popular lady'”.

Thankful that images of the day were captured, Beth added: “It is lovely memories, I am glad her grandchildren were there too as they will be able to pass that on to their children about this time which will certainly be a topic in history for years to come.”

Unfortunately Lily has four grandchildren who were unable to attend due to the restrictions –  Jill Fradkin, Jonathan Acheson and James Acheson live in Scotland, and Keith Wilson lives in Bristol.

However, in the times that we live in Keith was Face-Timed with the click of a button and was able to attend, even if only virtually.

Local photographer Marie Allen had the pleasure of being invited to take photos of this very memorable day and was delighted to oblige.

She told Armagh I: “I was out on my walks taking photos when I was contacted by a lady who said about the celebration going on, so I decided to call round.

“I did not know them but it was amazing. You could really feel the community spirit with the bagpipes playing as well.”

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