24th August 2016
It’s been a busy week for retired farmer William (Billy) Armstrong. Last Monday he turned 100 and marked the day as he would any other Monday – with a trip to Carlisle’s H&H Auction to ‘watch cattle trade’ and meet up with friends for lunch. Billy still drives and is out and about several days a week, visiting friends. He is fiercely independent and enjoys life in his own home knowing he has the security of the Eden Independent Living care alarm service on hand if needed.
Billy Armstrong married his wife Edna in 1946 and farmed at Plumpton Hall for fifty years before retiring. He has three daughters and four grandchildren and still visits his cousin for dinner regularly each week.
Whilst it is now 34 years since Billy retired from farming, he can still be found every Monday at H&H Auction in Carlisle, and every Tuesday at Hopes Auction in Wigton. “I still like to see how fat cattle and fat sheep are doing and I catch up with a few friends for lunch while I am there. In my day a cow cost £30, today it is more like £1200 – times have changed.”
When asked what was the most far reaching change in his lifetime, Billy was definite – electricity. He said “I put electricity into Plumpton Hall in 1947. Until then you needed candles and matches. We take it so for granted today – until there’s a power cut!”
A popular gent, Billy celebrated with a party at the weekend with friends and family. He has received over 125 cards – including one from Her Majesty the Queen which his daughters have already had framed.
In honour of his centenary Sarah Greenop, Independent Living Support Advisor for the Eden Independent Living service called in with a hamper of treats. Sarah is also from a farming background and the pair discussed farming history and mutual connections. Sarah Greenop said “I’ve known Billy and his family for some time, but it was only 15 months ago that he first signed up to receive our care alarm service. It gives Billy and his family that extra reassurance to know there is someone at the end of a phone and all he needs to do is push a button.”
Commenting on the care alarm service Billy said “I visited a friend one day and he told me he had fallen and laid on the floor for almost 2 hours before anyone knew or helped him. I also have other friends who use the service so it seemed a sensible thing to do. I keep my pendant in my pocket all the time, it’s just part of me, and if I ever need it, I know it’s just there.”
Billy still lives in Plumpton in a bungalow built specially for him. Billy said “When Peter Montgomery was developing houses here, I asked if he would build me a bungalow – and he did.” Billy can now farm from his chair – across the garden are fields of sheep he can count every day.
For more information about the Eden Independent Living Service, contact the team on 01768 890657, or call in to see them at 12 St Andrews Churchyard, Penrith.