Baby who nearly died celebrates reaching 100 in North Walsham

A former Royal British Legion volunteer from North Walsham, who almost died as baby after contracting a serious illness, will celebrate her 100th birthday tomorrow.

Molly Harris, who still lives in her own home at Bradfield Road, commemorated the occasion at the weekend with a special dinner at the Beechwood Hotel in the town with 19 of her closest family and friends.

Born in Bushey, Watford, Mrs Harris moved to Norfolk from Luton in 1975 with her husband James when he retired after working for 40 years at British Gas.

The couple married in July 1939, two months before Mr Harris went to serve in the army during the war. When it was over the couple bought and managed a sweet shop and tobacconist in Luton, before the birth of her daughter, after which Mrs Harris became a full-time housewife.

Born during the same year the Titanic sank, she explained there was some confusion over which day was her birthday.

'I was born at midnight but I had two different birth certificates,' she explained.

'One said my birth date was January 25 and the other January 26.'

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Eventually she favoured January 25 as her special day.

She said she was 'lucky' to have lived for as long as she has after it was feared she would not survive an attack of meningitis as a baby, which result in later contracting scarlet fever.

'In those days there was no cure for it and my family thought I would die,' she said. She added that the secret to her longevity was 'hard work and determination.

'I really am lucky,' she said.

'You get some older people who are in a home but I want to remain independent in my own home.'

Mrs Harris is passionate about baking, cooking, bowling and sewing and has been involved with the local community since she first moved to North Walsham. She volunteered at the Royal British Legion for 30 years by making marmalades to sell at fund-raisers. She also helped out with fruit picking and babysitting within the town.

She was also joined for her celebrations by her son-in-law and daughter, Michael and Pat Guntley, of Luton.

Mr Guntley said: 'We wanted to go back to The Beechwood to celebrate her birthday because that's where we went to celebrate her 90th.

'This area was always the first choice when we were helping them to look for somewhere to live. She's got wonderful neighbours and people who support her and she's very grateful for them.'

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