Irene celebrates 102nd birthday at St Helens care home

Irene Husain celebrated her 102nd birthday with the help of St Helens Hall Care Home where she lives.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 5:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 5:06 pm
Irene Husain

And she puts her longevity down to looking after her health.

French-born Irene once met Hollywood acting legend Rita Hayworth when she worked as a secretary for Prince Aly Aga Khan, who was Rita’s husband. She moved to the UK from France in 1919.

In 1941, when she was 21, she joined Free French, the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War.

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Her service saw her stationed far from home in Algiers, where she was greeted by tracer bullets on arrival, and under the direct command of General de Gaulle as the secretary of his Lt Colonel Bonnafe.

From there she rose through the ranks to become sergeant in the air section of the National Defence Command, then secretary to commander of the military cabinet before reaching the rank of lieutenant.

She was awarded the Commemorative medal for voluntary service in Free France and even declined the Croix de Guerre – awarded to those soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism – saying she had not earned it.

She married her husband of 25 years Abdulali ‘Tutti’ Husain and they had two children - daughter Zarina, who died in a tragic house fire in 2017, and son Jamil. She moved to St Helens in 2018 to be closer to her son Jamil, a dentist, and her two grandchildren.

Amanda Clark, Registered Manager of St Helens Hall Care Home, an award-winning specialist dementia residential and short-term respite care home, said: “We were delighted to help Irene celebrate such an impressive birthday with a lovely home-made cake. Irene spent her birthday with her son, whom she adores.”