THE birth of a tiny baby boy marks the expansion of one Newtownards family to five living generations.
At nine weeks old little Parker-Xander brings in the landmark and quite rare tier of the Patterson family, headed by his great-great grandmother, 84-year-old Mary Vance. Mary’s daughter Valerie Patterson, who is 61 years old, is the eldest of Mary’s four daughters and she in turn had three children. Her eldest child, 41 year-old Colin Patterson, had three girls and his eldest Charleigh Patterson, is the proud mum of little Parker-Zander, born on August 24 and known as Parker among family and friends.
Enjoying five generations of family is quite a rare feat according to official data, with generations spanning six an extremely rare occurrence. According to Guinness World Records the most generations alive in a single family has been seven. Everyone – bar baby Parker – attended Newtownards’ Model Primary School for a time, with Mary starting the family’s connections with the school before later attending Movilla when it was known as the intermediate school.
When she left school, Mary worked in Dickson’s nurseries before enjoying a short career in the Women’s Royal Air Force until Valerie was born. “She worked hard all her life as a nursing auxiliary in Boyd House, then Scrabo House, both in Newtownards, and then after a break to bring her children up she returned to Crawfordsburn Hospital until it closed,” said Valerie.. “She returned to Scrabo House till it closed and then went out into the community to care.
Years passed out in the community and she retired at 70. Then went back again in the community caring for another few years and then retired again,” she continued. Valerie said her mum then volunteered for a few years in the local Cancer Focus shop. Mary’s family followed her in their later educational footsteps with Valerie and Colin both attending Movilla High school.
Great grandmother Valerie said she wanted to mark the longevity of her family in honour of her mum. “My mum sometimes isn’t well, just on and off really, but still, she’s pretty mobile most of the time and I thought it would be nice just to do something to mark this, in her honour,” she said. “We are all the first children of the family – I’m the eldest of mum’s children and Colin is the eldest of mine and Charleigh is the eldest of his children and we all live in Newtownards and always have, except for Colin, who lives in Bangor now,” she said.