SLIDESHOW: Ex-Seton teacher and WI stalwart chalks up a century

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Arabell Taylor is sharp as a tack, likes an occasional gin and tonic and still does the Yorkshire Post crossword every day – but doesn’t always complete it.

At 100 years old she can be excused for not finishing things off.

Her first memory was of her father leaving for the First World War and taking shelter when zeppelins loomed.

“I remember the soldiers in the First World War,” she said.

“My father went and came back.

“He was on horseback and was with the gun carriages.”

100 year old Arabel, Hinderwell WIs oldest member and youngest their member 22 year old Sophie Glasby. Picture Kathryn Bulmer.

100 year old Arabel, Hinderwell WIs oldest member and youngest their member 22 year old Sophie Glasby. Picture Kathryn Bulmer.

A resident of Runswick Bay, she lives independently but gets a little tired of cooking, so Pauline now comes in and helps out.

Arabell grew up in South Moor in County Durham with her three sisters and studied history, a subject she still loves, at a teacher training college in Bristol.

A free spirit, she travelled down the Rhine with a friend in the late 1930s, studied, fell in love and married George and was a very well-loved teacher at Seton School in Staithes.

Of the Second World War, Arabell said: “It was interesting, I enjoyed it there was always something happening.

Hinderwell WI celebrate 100 years and 100 year old Arabelle celebrated her Birthday with a special cake. Picture Kathryn Bulmer.

Hinderwell WI celebrate 100 years and 100 year old Arabelle celebrated her Birthday with a special cake. Picture Kathryn Bulmer.

“During the war I got married here in Runswick Bay to George.

“At the time Welsh Fusiliers were posted here and they all came to the wedding in their uniforms. They had a whale of a time.”

During the war, while the men were all fishing Arabell and the local ladies of Runswick Bay had to launch the lifeboat.

“We didn’t man it, but we did launch it.

“I remember very clearly that I was the only one wearing gloves, the other ladies had their Staithes bonnets on,” she said.

Sartorial elegance is another constant.

“I love wearing bright colours, it cheers things up,” she said.

Arabell has experienced generations of different styles and fashions, but never slavishly followed one look.

Living in Runswick Bay was idyllic, sheltered and also extremely social.

She recalls: “We made friends with visitors who often returned year after year.

“There were lots of parties.

“It was a great life and I was involved in so many things.”

George and Arabell had one son, Stuart. He remembers the parties too, in Runswick Bay and the bonhomie of life in the village.

Arabell’s grandchildren have brought her lots of joy.

When Arabell retired from teaching she stayed on the board of governors for Seton School until she was 90.

“People that I taught still shout out to me, I can remember their faces but not always their names,” she said.

To “keep going” is a simple mantra which has served Arabell well.

She has been a member of the WI for 40 years and likes to sing with them, and has done for the past seven years.

“We go to other WIs and charity dos.

“I’ve been to several old people’s homes.”

At this point, Helen, her daughter-in-law, reminded Arabell of the time she announced she was ‘off to sing to the old folks’. At the time she was 93.

Her first ski-ing holiday, though she didn’t hit the slopes, was when she was 75.

“I’ll go anywhere and have kept active helping run the church fetes, been involved in the Conservative Party, enjoyed country dancing, along with lots of night classes. “Also I can’t keep my nose out,” she said.

Particulary fond of cricket, she has been watching Whitby’s England batsman Adam Lyth’s progress.

“He’s shown them and is likely to be picked [for the Ashes],” she said.

“I’m a bit of a telly addict now, because I can’t go running about. I like to get my feet up and do the Yorkshire Post crossword.

“I’ll never forget when I went to London and George couldn’t get over the fact you couldn’t buy a Yorkshire Post there, he played hell.”

When asked if she had any top tips for a long life, Arabell kept it simple.

“I would never insult people – they have to find their own way.

“I kept doing different things and always been interested in other people.”

With a sparkle in her eye and love of life, Arabell is an inspiration to her family, friends and anyone who has the honour to meet her.