This couple was among the 50 well-wishers who stood outside the balcony of Margaret Ibbotson to help her celebrate her 88th birthday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

PHOTOS: Sidney residents serenade senior from school field for her 88th birthday

Margaret Ibbotson watches celebrations from her balcony

Some 50 of her closest friends gave 88-year-old Margaret Ibbotson a birthday to remember.

Standing outside her apartment balcony, a crowd of well-wishers including friends and family serenaded Ibbotson with not one, but many renditions of Happy Birthday. The group had gathered around 11 a.m. on the grounds of Sidney elementary school to walk to Ibbotson’s place.

As well-wishers, many carrying placards, balloons and flags, stepped on the school’s field, many broke into the first edition of the song. It was so nice that they did it twice once everybody had arrived.

Joined by her son Craig, Ibbotson watched from her balcony, visibly touched, then repaid the favour with a song of her own.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked,” she said from her balcony afterwards. “I’m very surprised to see so many people and how the people are. What a mixture of wonderful friends.”

RELATED: PHOTOS: COVID-19 forced Sidney couple to change wedding arrangements

Ibbotson knows many of them through her long involvement with the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club, which she co-founded with her late husband Peter some 40 years ago after arriving from northern England. Others including Polly and Ian Sutherland know Ibbotson from travels together.

“I’m absolutely shocked to see so many people,” said Polly. “I had no idea. I was thinking, ‘well, we have to keep it down to 10,’ but to work it out in this big field, it worked out beautifully.”

Monday’s public birthday singalong had only one drawback. Rain falling earlier that morning meant that Sidney’s Town Crier Kenny Podmore could not come out because it would have damaged his costume.


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88-year-old Margaret Ibbotson, here seen with her son Craig, watches from her balcony as some 50 people gathered outside her Sidney apartment to help her celebrate her birthday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

This was the scene in Sidney outside the balcony as some 50 friends helped Margaret Ibbotson celebrate her 88th birthday. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

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