Hard work and a drop of whisky is secret to long life, says Thorpe Hamlet great-great-grandmother, 104

Maud Collier celebrates her 104th birthday at Ellacombe care home on Ella Road, Thorpe Hamlet, Norwi

Maud Collier celebrates her 104th birthday at Ellacombe care home on Ella Road, Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Hard work and a daily drop of whisky is the secret to long life, according to one great-great-grandmother who has celebrated her 104th birthday.

Maud Collier marked the special day at her care home in Thorpe Hamlet yesterday while surrounded by several generations of her family.

Born on Barrack Street in 1912 – the same year as the great floods of Norwich – Mrs Collier is no stranger to hardship. After her mother died during childbirth, she was raised by her grandmother and left school at just 13 to start earning a living.

She began working with her aunt selling glassware, before landing a job with the Stewart and Patterson Brewery on the bottle-cleaning line.

'I worked there for seven years,' Mrs Collier said. 'I always remember that I was able to have a little drop of beer from under the bar.'

It was following a visit to the pubs along Prince of Wales Road that she met her husband-to-be, Sidney, when she was 17. The couple married on the Christmas Eve of 1929 and moved to Black Boys Yard, where she had her first of 10 children.

'She looked after her kids at the expense of everything else,' said her youngest son Tony, who is now 65.

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'She had to really struggle to make ends meet and it was a case of trying to shop the best you can with the little money you had.'

During the war, while her husband worked a firewatcher in the city, Mrs Collier would regularly have to carry her children to the air-raid shelters.

As her children began to grow up, she worked as a cleaner for the renowned judge and lord chancellor, Sir Michael Havers, on Lime Tree Road.

'The house had six rooms upstairs and five downstairs with a big old stair case,' Mrs Collier said. 'But the family was very nice to me.'

Despite her age, Mrs Collier has had no major health problems and only moved into full-time care in May last year. Her husband, who worked as a brick layer for R G Carter, died in 1991 aged 83.

'She can still walk from one side of the room to the other and they think the world of her here,' her son Tony said.

Speaking about the secret to reaching 104, Mrs Collier added:'I have just worked hard all of my life and have a little drop of whisky now and again.

'I am all right for 104 but I can't always do want I might want to do and I miss my walks into the city.'

Are you marking a milestone event? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.

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