Brother and sister centenarians celebrate a 104th birthday

When Terry Potts turned 104, his 100-year-old sister Val Hough sent him birthday wishes over ABC Radio.

Mr Potts lives at Tweed Heads, on the north coast of New South Wales, and Mrs Hough lives in Bega on the far south coast.

They are the last two left of eight siblings.

Mrs Hough decided that this year she would celebrate her brother's April 8 birthday by getting ABC Radio to interview her.

She walked across town to the ABC studio in Bega, up two flights of stairs, and announced her brother was going to turn 104.

An interview was immediately recorded and later broadcast on the morning of Mr Potts' birthday.

"Have a happy birthday," Mrs Hough said.

And as an aside with a cheeky giggle, "Better not wish him plenty of them."

Mrs Hough had a bit more to say, and then she was off before a photo could be organised.

Hard work tracking down sprightly 100yo

The ABC called the aged care home a bit later to arrange a time to see her for a photo, but she had gone out again.

Meanwhile, she had told the nursing staff that the people at the ABC were surprised she had just shown up like that at the studio.

They explained to Mrs Hough that people were not very used to 100-year-olds popping in after walking across town and up flights of stairs.

"That's just because too many people are fat and lazy," was the typical Mrs Hough response.

After a couple of hours Mrs Hough was back at the aged care home again and the ABC rushed over to get a photo.

PHOTO: Terry Potts on his 104th birthday with one of his great-grandchildren, Otis. (ABC North Coast: Samantha Turnbull)


Tough times after mother dies

Mrs Hough's mother died in a tragic accident when Mrs Hough was only seven years old.

She and her three older brothers were then put into different orphanages.

It was not until she turned 13 that Mrs Hough returned to their home in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown and took on the role of keeping house.

I've been up to mischief alright. And I enjoyed it. And as far as I know I didn't hurt anybody but me.

Val Hough


It was 1929, the year the Great Depression began.

"It was pitiful. It broke up families because the mother and father couldn't afford to keep boys that were out of work," she said.

The situation did not change until war was declared in 1939.

"The day the war started is the day the Depression ended," Mrs Hough said.

"For a lot of those boys the Army was the first job they had."

Mrs Hough last saw Mr Potts two years ago.

"I loved all my brothers. They were a good mob, and they were always good friends, my brothers," she said.

PHOTO: The Potts brothers and father (from back left) Clyde, Sid, Sam, (front) Sam Senior and Terry. (Supplied: Val Hough)


Family gathers to listen to radio message

On the morning of his 104th birthday, Mr Potts was joined by his daughters, Pat Burns from Tweed Heads and Jan Peyton from Perth, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

They all, with other residents and staff, listened to Mrs Hough's interview on the radio.

"It's unbelievable," Pat Burns said.

"When we were planning his 100th birthday Mum used to keep saying 'I don't think he's going to make it.' And he's here at 104. And Mum has gone."

They said his secret was avoiding stress, and for Mrs Hough it was her stubbornness.

Mrs Hough turned 100 on Australia Day, and said she had never expected to live that long.

"Never gave it a thought, not even when I was 99. Take it as it comes. As you get older you develop that attitude," she said.

Mrs Hough said she and Mr Potts were the only two siblings who were teetotallers.

"But I smoked like a chimney until I gave up when I was 60," she said.

PHOTO: An early photograph of Val Hough holding her oldest son Ron. Val is now 100 years-old and Ron is 84.(Supplied: Val Hough)


'I've been up to mischief alright'

Her carers are amazed at her energy and sharpness of mind.

However, Mrs Hough is frustrated she can no longer knit, crochet, read, or write.

"Getting old's not all that good you know," she said.

The centenarian said the best time of her life was when her husband, Lance, was alive.

"He was a good man. We got on well together. We had our differences of course, but doesn't everybody?"

What advice does Mrs Hough have for younger generations, which comprises pretty well everybody?

"Try not to hurt other people," she said.

"I've had sad times and I've had good times. I've been up to mischief alright. And I enjoyed it. And as far as I know I didn't hurt anybody but me."



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