Happy birthday Helen

SEA air is the perfect tonic for a long life according to Helen Waldridge , who at 105 is believed to be Felixstowe's oldest resident.

SEA air is the perfect tonic for a long life according to Helen Waldridge , who at 105 is believed to be Felixstowe's oldest resident.

As she celebrated her milestone birthday with her family, surrounded by flowers and cards, Mrs Waldridge could look back on a life in which she breathed that fresh salty air almost every day.

Born in Felixstowe in 1902, just two months before Edward VII was crowned at his coronation, she has lived in the seaside town all her life except for a couple of years in her teens when she worked as a parlour maid at a big house in Ipswich.

She was born in Brickyard Cottages in Walton Avenue when the area was just fields and trees running down to the river - she loved going out into the surrounding countryside with her mum on a horse and cart at haymaking time.


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The cottages are no longer there - today the area is a mass of offices and haulage yards on the edge of busy Felixstowe port.

It was during her time working in Ipswich - in Christchurch Park, where she walked the children of the family she worked for - that she met her husband John. They were married at St John's Church in Felixstowe in 1921.

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They lived at Levington Road, Felixstowe, for more than 30 years and had four daughters. She recalled hiding the baby in the cupboard under the stairs when the war planes flew over.

Having survived the war, they also survived the tragic 1953 floods as water swept through their home, leaving it several feet deep in water. After another flood in the 1970s they moved to higher ground to Elizabeth Way.

Her husband died aged 92 in 1988 and Mrs Waldridge carried on living on her own, supported by family - she has three surviving daughters, nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild - , until she was 102.

With fading eyesight because of cataracts, poor hearing and after a couple of falls, worried family persuaded her to move into the Bellstone care home in Beach Road West.

“I don't feel so much different to when I was 100,” said Mrs Waldridge as she admired her congratulations card from the Queen and a telegram from secretary for work and pensions John Hutton.

She didn't like taking medication and had never had an operation.

Do you know anyone older than Helen? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: 1902

Beatrix Potter wrote her first Peter Rabbit story - tales which remain children's favourites a century later.

Boer War ended - it had started in 1899 and ended with the Orange Free State and South African Republic becoming part of the British Empire.

Conservative Arthur Balfour was elected Prime Minister after retirement of the Marquess of Salisbury, who held the office three times.

The coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra took place at Westminster Abbey after the king recovered well from a life-saving operation on his appendix.

Willis Carrier designed the first air conditioning system.

Also born in 1902 were writer John Steinbeck, runner Eric Liddell, aviator Charles Lindbergh and poet Ogden Nash.

Norwich City Football Club was formed.

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