A Port Alberni woman is the second person to be granted a lifetime subscription to Alberni Lifeline.
Vivian Thomson has been a client of the emergency response service, which operates from an office at West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni, since 2004. She turned 101 this year.
Thomson’s lifetime subscription is part of a new initiative Alberni Lifeline started in the summertime. Clients who turn 100 will no longer be charged for the service, says Chris Francey, the business director for West Coast General Hospital Foundation. The foundation now handles Alberni Lifeline Society’s business affairs.
The first person to receive a free lifetime subscription was Sister Margaret Mary Baumann, a Tofino nun. Baumann celebrated her 100th birthday in August at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Thomson turned 100 in May 2018, celebrating with a multi-generational family gathering at the Alberni Valley Rescue Squad building. She received a certificate from Queen Elizabeth II congratulating her on her centenary, and former Port Alberni mayor Mike Ruttan came and congratulated her as well.
Thomson, who grew up on McCoy Lake Road and now lives with a family member, talked about her key to longevity. “I come from quite a healthy family,” she said. “My mother and dad and brothers were all fairly healthy.
“I didn’t smoke and I didn’t drink. I never have drunk; I don’t like it,” she said.
Thomson’s brothers were born in England, but Vivian and her sister were born in Victoria, daughter Marlene Crosson explained. Vivian moved to Port Alberni when she was eight years old.
“They were just putting the wing on the old hospital” when she moved here, Crosson said.
Four generations of Thomsons have grown up on McCoy Lake Road and worked the Thomson farm. Two of Vivian’s sons still live on the road and there are still Thomsons operating the farm.
Alberni Lifeline gives people like Vivian Thomson some independence with the security of having someone at the end of a button to assist them. “It’s a personal emergency response system,” Lifeline coordinator Dodi Clark said. “Lifeline isn’t just for medical. People use it for a lot of different things; it makes people feel more comfortable.”
“It gives us peace of mind too,” Crosson said.
Clark tested Thomson’s system on the day she and Francey presented her with her lifetime subscription. Reg Corey, a response associate with Lifeline, responded as soon as Thomson’s button was pressed.
“Wow, congratulations,” he said when he discovered Thomson had turned 101.
Thomson remembers the first time she had to use her Lifeline button: she fell in the garden, and someone from Lifeline was able to alert one of her sons to come and help her.
“Lifeline is a great help,” Thomson said. “It’s always there. You know you can press the button and they will be there whenever you need them. It’s a great way of keeping you going.”