Celebrations as Vilma hits the grand old age of 106

IPSWICH: In the year of Vilma Harding’s birth, Las Vegas was founded and a car reached 100mph for the first time.

Now 106 years later, Vilma is still going strong and celebrating her milestone birthday.

Despite being rather hard of hearing these days, Vilma enjoyed a good old fashioned sing-song surrounded by family and friends.

She may be an Essex girl at heart, but these days Vilma is quite at home at the Crabbe Street residential home in the town.

Her big day was on Saturday when she was joined by loved ones for a birthday tea.

While she is able to recognise her family and likes to see them, her son Graham, 84, said her hearing was a problem.

He said: “She’s fine, but she won’t wear a hearing aid! She has a special one but won’t wear it and won’t even charge the batteries!”

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She spent most of her life in the Southend and Benfleet area of Essex, but moved to Suffolk after Graham moved here about 30 years ago.

Vilma has five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and six great great grandchildren – some of whom joined her for the big day.

She is not the only centenarian at Crabbe Street. Greta Wood is 101 and there are two other residents who are approaching their centenary.

The number of people in Britain aged over 100 is now thought to be more than 10,000.

A century ago it was only about 100.

And the news is definitely better for women, as it is estimated that 85 per cent of the centenarians in the UK are female.

Vilma is one of just over 400 people in the UK to be more than 105 – but she is not quite the oldest person in Ipswich.

That record was set by Doris Punchard, who celebrated her 107th birthday in July.

The oldest person in Suffolk is Kathleen Grimwood, who lives in Sudbury and is 110 years old.

n Do you know someone who is 100 and wants to share their secrets of long life? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

n Opinion – page 6