THE SECRET to a long and healthy life is positivity, prayer and a full Irish breakfast.
That’s according to Neath great-great-grandmother Nancy Stewart, who this week celebrated her 107th birthday in the company of her family while cocooning through the coronavirus pandemic.
Born on October 16, 1913, Nancy has survived two World Wars and is living through her second pandemic, having been an infant at the time of the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak.
One of the oldest people on the island of Ireland, the Clonard native has been in strict isolation with her beloved granddaughter Louise Coghlan since March due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Nancy boasts an incredible 84 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
But while the majority were unable to see her on her big day this past week, she offered up a message of hope for them and the people of Ireland as the country braces for difficult Winter.
The 107-year-old has been through plenty of difficult times, personally.
She lost her beloved husband in a car crash in 1989 and both of her twin daughters over a devastating three-year period.
But she has retained a positive, optimistic outlook on life. One she shared with the people of Ireland in a “Letter of Hope” that she read to the public on RTE.
"No matter how bad things have got, I’m the living proof that we can survive and in years to come, this will just be a distant memory,” she said in the powerful letter, which can be read here.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Nancy Stewart’s granddaughter Louise Coughlan spoke of how her grandma had taken the pandemic in her stride.
“It is a real credit to her strength and her inner resilience. Anyone who reaches out to her, she reaches back.
“There is something magic inside her. Anyone who goes in with troubles to Granny, they’ll be gone within a few minutes. You step out like a different person.”
And when it comes to the secret behind her longevity, Coghlan believes much of it is down to the fact Nancy sticks to three important rituals: prayer, positivity and a proper diet
“She has her veg, potato, meat and dessert every day,” Coghlan said.
She also swears by a full Irish breakfast five nights a week.
“She has a fry five nights a week. I know people don’t believe it, but she has fried bread, sausages, rashers.”