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‘She was our Amazing Grace’ - Tributes left after one of Norfolk’s oldest residents dies aged 107

PUBLISHED: 09:56 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 23 August 2018

Tributes left after one of Norfolks oldest residents dies aged 107. The charity Dereham Meeting Point celebrates it's 30th anniversary with a party for members. Here Grace is aged 105, enjoying the singing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Tributes left after one of Norfolks oldest residents dies aged 107. The charity Dereham Meeting Point celebrates it's 30th anniversary with a party for members. Here Grace is aged 105, enjoying the singing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Tributes to one of Norfolk’s oldest residents have been paid following her death earlier this month.

Grace Smith celebrates her 100th birthday amongst the congratulatory balloons at the Dereham Meeting Point. Picture: Denise BradleyGrace Smith celebrates her 100th birthday amongst the congratulatory balloons at the Dereham Meeting Point. Picture: Denise Bradley

Grace Smith, of Toftwood, near Dereham, was 107 when she died on August 3.

At the time of her death she was still living independently with some support from carers and had even been cycling until the age of 97 when she had to give it up after a fall left her with a broken hip.

A much-loved member of the local community, Mrs Smith especially enjoyed her time at the town’s Meeting Point group where she had been a member since it opened more than 30 years ago.

Speaking on behalf on the members and volunteers, manager Shonette Mooney said: “Grace was a much loved member and supporter of Dereham Meeting Point and although she hadn’t attended for a while, due to ill health, she will be greatly missed by all of us.

Staff and members of the Dereham Meeting Point dress up for Grace Smith's 100th birthday as Grace through the ages! Picture: DEREHAM MEETING POINT.Staff and members of the Dereham Meeting Point dress up for Grace Smith's 100th birthday as Grace through the ages! Picture: DEREHAM MEETING POINT.

“After all, she was our Amazing Grace.”

At the group, she was well-known as an ace cribbage player and had managed to take part in almost all of their events and outings for the past two and a half decades.

Mrs Smith was born in Stansted, Essex, on April 20, 1911, and was three years old when the First World War broke out.

One of her earliest memories from the time was sitting in her room and watching as a huge German airship known as a Zeppelin drifted past her window on a bombing run. One of those bombs fell just metres from her home, striking a cemetery nearby.

Grace Smith when she celebrated her 106th birthday. Picture: DEREHAM MEETING POINT.Grace Smith when she celebrated her 106th birthday. Picture: DEREHAM MEETING POINT.

During the Second World War she worked for the Red Cross in a hospital in London’s East End and helped to care for the sick and wounded, sometimes having to take cover in cramped makeshift bomb shelters, named Anderson shelters, while German bombers flew overhead.

Mrs Smith was married in 1935 to Robert Smith, a Royal Marine, and she worked as a cashier for the Co-op bank in London until she retired at the age of 70 and moved to Dereham in 1979.

Last year, she celebrated her 106th birthday with a joyride on a quad bike - a surprise organised by friends during a party at Dereham Meeting Point.

If you would like to pay tribute to Grace, write to The Times Editor with your name and address to Breckland Business Centre, Saint Withburga Lane, Dereham, NR19 1FD or email dft.news@archant.co.uk.

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