Bon anniversaire as Norfolk village's oldest resident turns 100

Odile Castro

Odile Castro celebrates her 100th birthday with family members from France in the village hall at Thornham - Credit: Chris Bishop

Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé.

The strains of La Marseillaise rang out from a Norfolk village hall, as a 100th birthday celebration got under way.

Odile Castro

Odile Castro, who has turned 100 is believed to be Thornham's oldest resident - Credit: Chris Bishop

Friends and family gathered at Thornham to wish Odile Castro the very best on her special day with a resounding rendition of the French national anthem.

Parisienne Mme Castro moved to Britain in 1947 to work as a librarian at the French Institute in London.

Odile Castro

Family members sing La Marseillaise as Odile Castro celebrates her 100th birthday at Thornham Village Hall - Credit: Chris Bishop

She moved to Thornham in the 1960s and is believed to be the village's oldest surviving resident - as well as the first in living memory to reach 100.

Family members travelled to Norfolk from France to join the celebrations.

Odile Castro

Thornham Parish Council chairman Colin Venes congratulates Mme Castro on her 100th birthday - Credit: Chris Bishop

Parish council chairman Colin Venes told them: "It's a great pleasure to see you all. Welcome to Thornham Village Hall.

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"We are here today to celebrate Odile's birthday and it's a very special birthday.  Happy birthday and congratulations."


A view across the salt marsh from the harbour at Thornham - Credit: Chris Bishop

An emotional Mme Castro said: "I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love living in Norfolk. I could have stayed in France, I have a lovely home in the South but I had to choose and I chose Thornham.

Odile Castro

Mme Castro at her 100th birthday party at Thornham Village Hall - Credit: Chris Bishop

"It's a lovely place, with lovely people and not too cold in the winter. I'm looking forward to 101."

Odile 100

Mme Castro's message of congratulation from the French ambassador - Credit: Chris Bishop

Instead of the usual telegram from The Queen, Mme Castro received a message of congratulation from Catherine Colonna, the French ambassador.

Mme Castro's niece, Isabelle Druet read out the greeting, which thanked her aunt for her part in fostering Anglo-French relations.

Odile 100

Isabelle Druet, Mme Castro's niece, reads out the message from the French ambassador congratulating her aunt on her 100th birthday - Credit: Chris Bishop

Mme Castro would invite villagers to her home for open house evenings, where they could practise their French.

Mme Druet said: "It's just such an honour to have such a nice and kind gathering. We organised it so 10 members of her French family could come today and we were really surprised when we heard there was also a gathering like this."


A high tide floods the marsh at Thornham, on the Norfolk coast - Credit: Chris Bishop

Mme Druet said family members had regularly visited her aunt in Norfolk. She added: "It's a typical English village, quite remote, I love the nature and also the intense social life you can have in a little village like the pubs and the pub quiz every Thursday night."

Mme Castro, who was widowed when her husband Ron died in 1970, has two sisters, three nephews, three nieces, 17 grand-nephews and nieces and six great-grand nephews and nieces.

Odile 100

Mme Castro joins friends and family members to sing La Marseillaise on her 100th birthday - Credit: Chris Bishop

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