Amazing Grace! Plucky pensioner celebrates 106th birthday in Dereham

Grace Smith celebrated her milestone birthday with a party at the Meeting Point care centre. Picture

Grace Smith celebrated her milestone birthday with a party at the Meeting Point care centre. Picture: The Meeting Point - Credit: Archant

One of Dereham's oldest residents celebrated her 106th birthday this week by spending time with friends at a day care centre and playing bingo.

In celebration of her birthday Ms Smith was given a personalised birthday cake. Picture: The Meeting

In celebration of her birthday Ms Smith was given a personalised birthday cake. Picture: The Meeting Point - Credit: Archant

Grace Smith turned 106-years-old on Thursday but celebrations started on Tuesday when a special party was thrown for her by friends at the Meeting Point care centre in Dereham.

Members of the centre gathered together for the party and between cake and live music, they gave three cheers and raised their glasses to mark the special occasion.

On the day of her birthday Ms Smith intends to head to her favourite bingo hall, which she said she has been visiting for over 60 years.

Ms Smith is in remarkably good shape for her age and still lives independently with some support from carers. As a member of the Meeting Point, she also manages to take part in almost all of their events and outings.

She was even cycling until the age of 97 when she had to give it up after a fall left her with a broken hip.

She was born in Stansted 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.

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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. She says she strongly remembers the times when she took cover in cramped makeshift bomb shelters, named Anderson shelters, while German bombers flew overhead.

After the war she spent most of her career working as a cashier for the co-op bank in London, eventually retiring with her husband and moving to Dereham in Norfolk in 1979.

As possibly Dereham's oldest resident, Ms Smith has witnessed some of the most significant moments of the 20th century but she says she's not sure everything has changed for the better.

She said: 'Things have changed a lot in my lifetime but I wouldn't say for the best. I still remember when we used to be able to get the freshest bread from the local bakers and the best meat from the butchers. It was a lot better than it is today, I really miss that.'

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