Centenarian Celesta has always had an active life
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
An active lifestyle that has included regular exercise classes and yoga sessions has played a major part in Suffolk grandmother Celesta Chapman reaching her 100th birthday.
When the Londoner was born as Celesta Mehew in May 1922, the first international air carrier was started by the governments of Germany and the Soviet Union, while the first international ‘Children’s Day’ was held.
Now living at Pear Tree Care home in Knodishall, she lived in the same street in Islington for 80 years and attended Hanover Primary School and Queen’s Head Street secondary school (now City of London Academy, Islington).
After leaving school, she trained as a bookbinder and worked for Oxford Circus department store Marshall & Snelgrove, while she also worked in printing, including creating bank notes.
Barclays of London and tobacco manufacturer Rothmans also employed her, before she retired aged 60 and had a job in the student union shop at City University in London.
She married William Chapman, known as Jim, in 1942, after meeting him when she moved to Sandy in Bedfordshire during the Second World War, although she did not see him during their first three years of married life while he served as a signalman in the army.
During this period, she was involved with the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), which supplies goods for the armed forces.
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The couple had two children- daughter Maria Chapman-Beer, 69 and son Peter, 73- as well as two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.
Her son said she was still very active well into her 90s and would regularly walk from Dulwich, in south London, where she was living at the time, back to Islington in north London, which she considered home, for her exercise classes.
Explaining her mother’s longevity, Mrs Chapman-Beer said: “She was a very determined lady, very strong willed and I think it is just because she was a very strong character, it just kept her going.
“She has done her exercises and kept herself busy and she has been lucky to have had the health that enabled her to keep active.”