Outpouring of well-wishes 'like a dream' for Nellie's 100th birthday
- Credit: Ashton Wiles
Nellie Brace received a card from the Queen last week to mark her 100th birthday - but it was the outpouring of love from the local community that made her special day a dream.
A social media request to wish Nellie a happy centenary led to more than 130 messages, gifts, handmade cards and well-wishes from businesses, schools and individuals.
Ashton Wiles, head of wellbeing at Park View Care Home, in Chantry Close, Ipswich, posted the callout on Facebook "on a whim" but didn't expect the sheer volume of arrivals.
The team had to put a special box in reception so that the cards could be stored there in the days leading to Ms Brace's birthday - so it was a shock when they revealed the trolley full of gifts and best wishes to Nellie on the morning of October 10.
She said: "I couldn't believe it. From people I didn't even know.
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"I didn't think I had any, nothing was being sent direct to my room, so I couldn't believe it when they brought them all in for me. It made my arm ache, opening them all for an hour, but it was so lovely.
"These people couldn't have given me a better time. I want to thank them all so much for being so kind and sending things."
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Handmade cards arrived from Buzzbee Babes Nursery and two local primary schools, Raneleagh and St Mark's, while Dilly's Day Care delivered two hampers. And the Ipswich M&S branch arranged a gift and 100 balloons.
Born in 1921, Nellie Cluck - now Brace, following her second marriage - recollects a good childhood but learned quickly she had to fight for herself.
At a young age, Nellie lost her mother, with her sister stepping up to lead the family.
She also experienced the deaths of both of her husbands at young ages and more recently her son Barry.
Her granddaughter, Laura, works as a doctor in Bury St Edmunds and the 100-year-old says she's very proud of her.
She sees and speaks to her daughter-in-law and her stepson when she can -- they visited to celebrate her birthday with her.
And, having moved to Park View in Ipswich three years ago to be closer to her son, she's made good friends in the care home.
She said: "I've had a happy life. I don't feel 100 at all, I'm still walking around and looking after myself and taking life day by day.
"I've had my hair done today and look 10-20 years younger, you know! Yes, keep going, help where you can, keep laughing."