105 years of smiles!

IPSWICH: Not many can claim they have reached the ripe age of 105 and still be full of smiles.

Vilma Harding celebrated reaching the milestone age at her care home in Crabbe Street, with fellow residents and family.

Mrs Harding has had a varied life, which began in Bow, east London, where she was born on September 17, 1905. Since then she has survived two world wars, a turbulent British history and advanced improvements in technology.

She soon moved to Southend in Essex where she spent most of her life and met and married her two husbands.

Mrs Harding, who had one step-sister and a brother, married George Stephenson at a young age and had one son, Graham, now 83.

Before becoming a mother and housewife, Mrs Harding worked in sales and was an assistant buyer for a large clothing firm in Southend.

After splitting from George, she married second husband, Alfred McLaughlin, and they remained together until his death in 1992.

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She is not short of family as she has five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Graham moved to Ipswich about 30 years ago and Vilma followed several years later, first moving to sheltered housing at Walsingham Court and then to Crabbe Street, a dementia care home, last September.

Graham said: “All the family has tended to live to a ripe old age but I think she is the oldest. She is in reasonable health given her age and will probably out live me!”

Pam Purnell, home manager, said: “She is a joy to look after. She is very aware of what is going on and she joins in everything. She particularly likes music.

“She used to work in retail and she tells us all about how different things were back then.

“For her age, she is remarkable. She is the oldest person we have had here. She has a lovely caring personality and is a lovely lady.

“She is very proud of her son.”

As a special birthday treat, there was a buffet at the home with all the home’s residents and some of her family.

n Do you know someone reaching a milestone age and want us to write a story on them? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or alternatively you can send an e-mail to eveningstar letters@eveningstar.co.uk