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Thrift shop volunteer turns 100 and looks forward to working again

Charlotte England celebrated milestone birthday on Monday at Augustine House

Turning 100 hasn’t dampened Charlotte England’s enthusiasm for returning to her duties at the Delta Hospital Auxiliary Society’s thrift shops.

The Augustine House resident celebrated her milestone birthday on Monday, organized by her daughter Louise, Augustine recreation manager Tim Bowman and friends.

England has volunteered at the thrift shops since 2002 and was working last spring when the operation was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She vows she will be back once health restrictions are eased enough for the stores to be safely back in full operation.

“I will go as soon as I can,” she said. “It isn’t a ‘wow’ that I am still doing it. Many people in our community work there to keep the hospital going because that’s where all the funds go.”

England’s humour is sharp as ever. She recalled growing up with her four siblings in Saskatchewan and how her mom was left deaf in one ear as a victim of the Spanish Flu in 1918. 

“We were naughty, naughty kids,” she laughed. “When we were teenagers and stayed out too late we always hoped mother was sleeping on her good ear so she couldn’t hear us come home.”

After graduating from high school, it was The Second World War and England left for Montreal to assemble armory guns for the Canadian Armed Forces. She eventually made her way to Vancouver in 1944 to attend nursing school. She trained at St. Paul’s Hospital and was the valedictorian for her graduation class. She met her future husband Les in 1945 and the couple married three years later.

He earned his law degree at UBC and became a liaison officer for the Judge Advocate General (JAG). This led to the family moving to Ottawa and then to Germany for three years. The couple had six children and England worked as a nurse until she was 70.

She has spent much of her life as an avid golfer, taking up the game when she was 14. At 88, she was the oldest player to participate in the Arctic Open in Iceland, held annually in June.

“Those are the type of fun things that can happen when you live a century,” chuckled England. “I love my life and want to live another 100 years if I may.”