Franz Ferdinand was still alive and well and Europe was at peace and unaware of the horrors that were set to unfold when Aberdare’s Olive Elizabeth Peake was born on March 19, 1914.
Now, as the world begins to mark the start of the First World War, which began when Olive was just a few months old, and reflects on a century of incredible history since, Olive and her family have also been reflecting and celebrating in style.
The mother of two recently celebrated her 100th birthday with her family. As well as having a party at Tegfan, the Council home where she now lives, Olive also enjoyed a visit from Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Cllr Ann Crimmings.
Cllr Crimmings was pleased to be able to take time out from her busy schedule of fundraising, charity events and representing the county borough to take part in one of her favourite engagements – meeting residents.
Olive is a true character who lived independently in her own home, with the support of a dedicated Council team, until she was 97. Not only this, she continued to swim at Aberdare Swimming Pool well into her 90s, a past-time she took up because ballroom dancing, keep fit and aerobics became too much for her when she reached her 80s.
Olive was born in Cardiff and moved to Aberdare in the 1930s when her railway worker father was transferred there to work at the Great Western Depot.
She lived with the rest of her family in Pendarren Street and Olive worked as a cashier at Woolworth’s in Commercial Street until she met her husband, Les, who she married in 1941. After the wedding, Olive took over the running of Les’s corner shop in Jubilee Road as her husband was serving in the war in the Navy.
When Les de-mobbed, he took over the running of the shop while Olive raised their children, Robin and Michael. But she still worked in the shop when needed and the family still live nearby in Jubilee Street.
As her children grew up, Olive began working in insurance and became a familiar face in Aberdare as she collected the weekly payments from families. She became friends with many of her customers and made sure she always had sweets in her pocket for the local children.
Throughout her career, she never missed a day’s work due to sickness and would often return home from her rounds drenched from the rain, but happy with her day’s work. She continued this way for 20 years before retiring.
Olive found the time at home difficult, so began volunteering in the Cancer charity shop in Aberdare and also took up ballroom dancing and keep fit classes. She continued with this well into her 80s, attending events across the country.
As she entered her 90s, this became hard for her so she took up swimming and would attend Aberdare Swimming Pool at least twice a week.
Mayor Cllr Ann Crimmings said: “Meeting residents who are entering their second century of life is one of my favourite engagements as Mayor.
“It is incredible to hear the life stories of these residents, who inspire us all with their continued passion for life and love for their families.
“Set against the context of all that has happened in the world while Olive has been alive – two World Wars, Vietnam, The Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan, Elvis, The Beatles, JFK, changes in currency and changes in government and it shows just how much they have lived through.
“I am very grateful to the staff at the Council’s Tegfan home, which now looks after Olive, and Olive’s lovely family for inviting me to this event.”
As well as finding time to meet Olive and her family, Mayor Cllr Crimmings is also busy with her own fundraising work and has organised lots of events for the coming weeks to raise money for her chosen causes.
A charity bed push from Pontypridd to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital this Saturday (May 29)
An Easter egg hunt for children at the beautiful Dare Valley Country Park on April 19 and 20.
A family-friendly Lap the Lake fun run, also at Dare Valley Country Park, on April 20.
The Welsh Three Peaks challenge on May 10
The ever-popular and great fun Charity Golf Day at Aberdare Golf Club on May 16.
For more events or to find out how to get involved, visit the Mayor’s page at www.rctcbc.gov.uk or visit www.whatsonrct.co.uk for the latest news.
Enjoy the pictures from Olive's 100th party in the picture special