Woman celebrates 100th birthday with socially distanced sea shanty serenade

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A woman has been given a socially distanced sea shanty serenade to celebrate her 100th birthday.

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Sylvia Claxton, who was born at Hill House in Blakeney on September 13, 1920, and still lives in the village, was treated to a visit from local sea shanty group Blakeney Old Wild Rovers to celebrate the special occasion.

Ms Claxton and her friends and family were given a socially distanced performance by the group, who stood on the road outside her home and performed a nautical rendition of happy birthday.

At the outdoor celebration she was toasted with champagne and enjoyed a cake, before opening her card from the queen and commenting “how wonderful”. Ms Claxton’s niece Michelle Hewitt said of the event: “The celebration was distant, it was in her front garden and we managed to get her outside in her wheelchair so she could actually be a part of it rather than sitting inside.

“It was just family and two or three neighbours in attendance, but she really enjoyed it, she had a wonderful time.


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“The shanty singers were doing a gig down the road so they agreed to pop up and do happy birthday for her.”

During her early life Ms Claxton looked after children in their family homes, and during the war she cared for children with tuberculosis at Home Place in High Kelling.

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Ms Hewitt said one of the most notable moments of her life came in January 31, 1953, when she was in Wiveton on a rainy night caring for a baby and small child and noticed water seeping under the door. She began to sweep it away until she realised that it was the North Sea flooding.

Ms Claxton and the children were eventually rescued by boat from an upstairs window. Ms Claxton has been a lifelong churchgoer at Blakeney Church and enjoys playing church organs. She now joins a Zoom Sunday morning service and sings along with the hymns. Ms Hewitt says Ms Claxton now enjoys a happy life at home being cared for by her live-in carers, Rose and Locadia.

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