‘Kind old bird’ Cissy Brine - who ran club for the elderly until she was 100 years old herself - dies aged 104

Cissy Brine, who turned 99.

Cissy Brine, who turned 99. - Credit: Archant

Centenarian and community activist Cissy Brine has died aged 104. Emma Bartholomew speaks to Cissy’s daughter Irene about her remarkable life


A great-grandmother who received an award for running a club for the elderly until she was 100 has died at 104.

Cecilia Brine, better known as Cissy, was born in Hackney in 1915 and was a "true East End girl through and through", living here most of her life.

She did move to Leytonstone for a short period in 1935 after getting married, but "hated it there" according to her 78-year-old daughter Irene, and quickly returned to live on the brand new Kingsmead Estate.

"It was luxury in those days with bathrooms rather than toilets in the gardens," remembers Irene.


"My mum was always active in the community and she would organise street parties. She sung in the pubs to earn a bit of money, and she would play the piano honky tonk.

"In her later years she worked as a cook at a trouser factory in Shoreditch until she was 76, and then she worked in a delicatessen until she was 86 in Well Street.

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"When we were down there the owner told me how my mum would make pies and bread pudding for their brothers, but that was typical of my mum - she'd make a great big pie and give a bit to everyone. She was very generous. She didn't have a lot of money but if she could help anyone out financially she would."

Cissy went on to run Sanctuary Housing's Morningside Community Centre over-50s club, and only retired from that at the age of 100.

"She was the oldest one but was more fit than any of them," said Irene. "She used to take them out for days to the seaside and buy them all lunch.

"She was a really kind old bird. She was lovely.

"Her daily exercise would be to walk down to Tesco in Well Street where she was always greeted with a smile."

Sanctuary presented Cissy with a special award five years ago to thank her for her work. Soon after, she retired, but stayed independent until last year when she suffered a stroke aged 102 and was no longer able to care for herself.

She died peacefully in her sleep on August 27, and leaves behind four children - June, Roy, Irene and John - 24 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

"She was adored by so many," said Irene. "She was a true fighter and loved life, and her family were her everything. She will be greatly missed by us all."

Her funeral is in a week (Thu) with a procession through Well Street at 1.30pm and service at City of London Crematorium at 2.30pm.

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