A RIPON woman has celebrated her 100th birthday and looked back on a life stretched across two continents.
Janet Rance marked her centenary on Friday, January 20. She celebrated surrounded by friends and family with a party at her home at Clova House Care Home, and was joined by the Mayor of Ripon Coun Mick Stanley and the Deputy Mayor of Ripon Coun Pauline McHardy.
Mrs Rance, nee Archer, was born in Penicuik near Edinburgh in 1912 and lived there for the first nine years of her life.
She was delivered by her own grandmother, who served as a midwife to her husband’s regiment the Royal Scots Brigade.
Her life has been affected by the tumultuous 20th century. After emigrating to USA in 1921 Janet and her family were forced to return to Britain just eight years later when the Great Depression hit and left her father, a painter and decorator, unable to find work without US citizenship.
At 17, Mrs Rance said she was devastated to leave her adopted home.
“I was broken hearted. I was American to the soles of my feet. I took the oath of allegiance as keenly, perhaps more so, as any other American child,” she said.
The family returned to Edinburgh, where Mrs Rance stayed until she married husband Stan and moved to Surrey.
The couple met on a walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales in 1938, but the outbreak of World War Two kept them apart for six years.
They finally wed in Edinburgh in 1945, and were married for 60 years until Mr Rance died in 2006. They had two daughters, Judith, who lives in Ripon, and Elizabeth. Mrs Rance is now grandmother to three girls, and great-grandmother to Hannah, four, Marcus, two, Jacob, 18 months, and Hazel, three months, and is expecting another great-grandchild soon.
Mrs Rance believes that the influence of America across the 20th century has changed things for the better, especially in education. Like many of her generation the war played a big part in her life, not least that she had to wait for six years to get married, and she believes that defeating Hitler changed the world.
“It’s a good job we won the war,” she said.
Mrs Rance said she has also seen great improvements in healthcare, and in education and opportunities for girls. “They should take every advantage,” she added.
Looking back, Mrs Rance said she is thankful that in her life “everyone has been kind”, and said living a quiet life is the secret to longevity.
“Have a dull life! Live quietly, keep your head down and don’t fret.”