108 and still going strong

BIRTHDAY cards from the Queen are losing something of their charm for Suffolk centenarian Connie Stebbings.Now in her 109th year, she is thought to be the oldest person in Suffolk and perhaps even in the country.

BIRTHDAY cards from the Queen are losing something of their charm for Suffolk centenarian Connie Stebbings.

Now in her 109th year, she is thought to be the oldest person in Suffolk and perhaps even in the country.

Born when Queen Victoria was on the throne, Mrs Stebbings has seen 20 Prime Ministers in Downing Street and six monarchs on the throne.

The 108-year-old was just 19 when the First World War broke out and 48 when the Second World War came to a close.

According to her nieces Iris Barrell and Barbara Norman her secret to a long life is “good food and hard work.”

Yet despite her longevity Mrs Stebbings has not had an easy life - both her children died young and she has also outlived her husband.

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Miss Barrell, 72, said: “She has had a very hard life really but she comes through and if anything was wrong in the family she was always the one who would find some way to sort it out.

“She looks younger now than she did two or three years ago and was really in good spirits on her birthday.

“I'm always terrified because it has been a special occasion for a few years now and sometimes she has days when she wants to stay in bed.

“She more or less knows what's going on but she can't swallow that she is 108 - she thinks she is 104.”

Born in Wattisham in 1897, Mrs Stebbings moved to Copdock and spent most of her life working on her father's farm.

She was the eldest of six siblings but has outlived them all, although most of them lived fairly long lives.

She married Harold Stebbings, a carpenter and wheelwright in 1925 and became well-known in her village.

Miss Barrell added: “She would help anybody and had evacuees during the Second World War.

“If someone was having as baby she would be the person they sent for.”

Mr Stebbings passed away in 1964 and one of Mrs Stebbings brothers then lived with her.

She later moved to Nayland Nursing home before moving to Monmouth Court in Monmouth Close, Ipswich where she lives today.

She celebrated her birthday with family and friends and her beloved teddy bears which never leave her side.

Fast facts - 1897

N Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee.

N The word computer was used for the first time to mean an electronic calculation device.

N Brooklyn, New York merged with New York City.

N Oscar Wilde was released from prison.

N Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, was Prime Minister.

N Bram Stoker's Dracula was published.

N Enid Blyton was born.