Irene's in the Limelight: Model centenarian celebrates a century in social housing

Irene Radcliffe (Demo)

A Salford housing association resident has found herself in the limelight as a cover girl at the grand old age of 100

By Northern Housing Staff

WITH a raised glass, the push of a button, and a twinkle in her eye, centenarian Irene Radcliffe started the presses rolling to celebrate 100 years of life lived in social housing.

Radcliffe posed for the cover of the latest edition of Limelight (main image), the annual residents’ magazine from Salix Homes, which is delivered to 8,000 homes across Salford, for a joint centennial celebration.

Irene Radcliffe, aged 18
Irene Radcliffe, aged 18. Credit: Eddie Garvey | eg13multimedia.

Radcliffe lives at Nine Acre Court in Ordsall and turned 100 in August 2019, just a few weeks after the centennial anniversary of the Addison Act, which marked the start of the council housing system.

“Irene is our oldest tenant at Nine Acre Court and remarkably she turned 100 at the same time social housing marked its 100th anniversary,” said Lee Sugden, chief executive of Salix Homes.

“She’s spent her whole life living in social housing in Salford and has some wonderful memories and a great tale to tell, so we are privileged to share her story in our customer magazine Limelight, which aims to shine a spotlight on the real people of Salford.

“Irene is a great character and very well loved by her friends and neighbours, so she was the natural choice to be our cover girl and to help us launch our latest edition of the magazine, and we hope she will treasure this experience.”

To celebrate her inaugural modelling job, Radcliffe was given a VIP tour of the print and production centre in Leeds, West Yorkshire, where the magazine is designed and printed. She was able to press the button on the printing press to send the magazine to print and watched as her cover came off the press.

“I’d never have thought in a million years that I’d be a cover girl at my age, but it’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “It was marvellous to see how the magazine is made and really interesting to see it all come together – I didn’t realise there was so much to it.”

Radcliffe’s cover shot was taken at her recent 100th birthday party organised by her nephew Peter Butters and the residents at Nine Acre Court, which was also attended by the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, Charlie McIntyre.

“I’d never done any modelling before, but I’d like to be on the cover of Vogue next,” Radcliffe joked.

Born Irene Butters on 19 August 1919, she is the youngest of 10 children and grew up with her siblings and parents Mary-Anne and James Butters in a terraced house on Robert Hall Street in Ordsall.

During the 1970s, she moved with her older sister, May to a brand-new tower block in Ordsall – Sunnyside Court – before moving to her current home at Nine Acre Court in 1990 where she plans to live out her years.

Irene's Limelight
Irene Radcliffe pushes the button to send the magazine to print.

“I’ve spent most of my life living in a tower block now,” she said. “We were on a lower floor and when we first moved in, I was a bit frightened thinking of all those flats on top of me, but you soon get used to it.

“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else now. I love living here, I know everyone, and my flat has a great view of the park. That park is my life – I watch the children playing and the football matches – why would I want to move at my time of life.”

And Radcliffe, who still has a twinkle in her eye, has shared the secret to a long life.

“I’ve never smoked or gone out with boys, though I am on the look-out for a toy boy,” she joked. “I enjoy the odd Guinness or a gin and tonic. I’ve had a good life and I’ve always looked after myself and my appearance – and I think that’s the secret.”

Read her story in the latest edition of Limelight.


Video: Start the press…


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