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Norfolk woman celebrates 106th birthday thanks to living by the sea and eating herring

PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:26 05 March 2019

Vera Read, front centre, celebrates her 106th birthday at Springdale Care Home at Brundall with her family. From left, back, Kenneth Manns, Vera's son-in-law; Dana Kenny, great granddaughter; Melanie Kenny, granddaughter; Clive Girling, nephew, with his wife Jayne. Front, Christine Manns, daughter; and Vera's sister, Edna Anger. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Vera Read, front centre, celebrates her 106th birthday at Springdale Care Home at Brundall with her family. From left, back, Kenneth Manns, Vera's son-in-law; Dana Kenny, great granddaughter; Melanie Kenny, granddaughter; Clive Girling, nephew, with his wife Jayne. Front, Christine Manns, daughter; and Vera's sister, Edna Anger. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

A Norfolk woman who has celebrated her 106th birthday put her long life down to good genes and eating herring.

Vera Read celebrates her 106th birthday with her cake at Springdale Care Home at Brundall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYVera Read celebrates her 106th birthday with her cake at Springdale Care Home at Brundall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

When Vera Read was born in Oulton Broad on March 5, 1913, women did not yet have the vote and Woodrow Wilson had just been sworn in as US President. The first of three children, her sister, Edna Anger, is 94-years-old while her brother, Stanley, died only last year.

Her aunt, Florence Hindes, lived until 108 years old.

Christine Manns, 73, from Hellesdon, is Ms Read’s daughter.

She said that longevity was in the family’s genes and that her mother put her long life down to “living by the sea and eating herring”.

Vera Read celebrates her 106th birthday with a card from the Queen, at Springdale Care Home at Brundall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYVera Read celebrates her 106th birthday with a card from the Queen, at Springdale Care Home at Brundall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

In the late 1930s the Read family moved to Norwich when the father, William Gurling, got a job as a tailor in a shop near City Hall.

Mrs Read left school when she was 14 and her first job was in a shop on St Benedicts Street, at the department store Henry Jarvis, the Debenhams of its day.

During the Second World War she got a job in a factory making uniforms for soldiers.

It was also during the war, in October 1941, she married Cecil Read.

Vera Read, front centre, celebrates her 106th birthday at Springdale Care Home at Brundall with her family. From left, back, Kenneth Manns, Vera's son-in-law; Dana Kenny, great granddaughter; Melanie Kenny, granddaughter; Clive Girling, nephew, with his wife Jayne. Front, Christine Manns, daughter; and Vera's sister, Edna Anger. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYVera Read, front centre, celebrates her 106th birthday at Springdale Care Home at Brundall with her family. From left, back, Kenneth Manns, Vera's son-in-law; Dana Kenny, great granddaughter; Melanie Kenny, granddaughter; Clive Girling, nephew, with his wife Jayne. Front, Christine Manns, daughter; and Vera's sister, Edna Anger. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He was in the Navy and was demobbed in 1945.

Their first child, Christine, was born in August that year, and the family moved to Mile Cross in Norwich.

Another girl, Eileen, was born in 1951.

Ms Manns said that her mother is very caring.

“I don’t think my mother has any bad points. She is just an old-fashioned wife and mother,” Mrs Mann said.

“She cooked everything. Nothing was shop-bought then, in the 50s and 60s.”

The family moved to west Earlham but her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

She looked after him for 20 years.

Her husband died in 1983 and she then lived alone until 2013, when she was 100-years-old and moved to Springdale care home in Brundall.

Some of her family went to the care home on Tuesday (March 5) to celebrate her birthday.

Ms Manns said her mother cannot believe she has lived until 106.

“When she looks at me and my sister, she can’t believe we’re her daughters. I ask, ‘Is it because we are so old?’ She says yes.”

Ms Read has four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Her eldest great grandchild is 27 while the youngest is 10.

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