Wednesday, February 1, 2023


A FORMER Ballynahinch businesswoman has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Mrs Sadie Donnan, who for over 20 years ran a petrol station with her late husband Hugh along the town’s Dromore Road, became a centenarian last week.

She was born on 19 January 1923 – at a time when  George V was the monarch, Sir James Craig was the province’s sitting Prime Minister, and the initial advances in the technology of the day had been heralded, with the British Broadcasting Company, just days before her birth, airing its first outside broadcast. Mrs Donnan was one of three children raised by their parents Annie and Thomas Patterson at Cahard, near Saintfield.

After leaving school she worked on the family farm before marrying Hugh. The couple ran the petrol station, with Hugh also delivering heating and engine oil around the locality, with Sadie’s main role seeing her dispense fuel to vehicles which pulled up outside the garage her husband had built. After selling the business in 1973, the couple relocated to Listooder, also on the outskirts of Saintfield. Having worked for so many years at the petrol station, Sadie initially enjoyed retirement but then, true to form with her hard-working attitude, she decided to return to employment and took a job at what was then known as Purdysburn Hospital, near Carryduff.

She worked there for over two decades until Hugh’s health began to deteriorate and at that stage she retired to be able to help care for her husband until his death, almost 34 years ago. Described by daughter Margaret as “a very independent and determined person”, she added that her mother had a great work ethic “and was always a hard-worker who was able to turn her hand to anything.” Delighted that her mother is still able to lead as full and as self-sufficient a life as possible, Margaret explained that despite plans for a low-key birthday celebration, Sadie “really appreciated” the many people, including friends and neighbours, who took the time to send birthday greetings and presents.

 She added that Mrs Donnan “is now the proud recipient” of a special card from King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla, marking this momentous milestone, as well as “a beautifully worded letter” from the Lord Lieutenant for County Down, Gawn Rowan Hamilton, both of which “are now taking pride of place on her mantelpiece”.

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