Helen bows out on 107

A GREAT great grandmother who was thought to be the oldest person in Suffolk has died at the age of 107.

A GREAT great grandmother who was thought to be the oldest person in Suffolk has died at the age of 107.

Helen Waldridge was born and bred in Felixstowe and remained in her own home living independently until five years ago.

She died suddenly at the Bellstone home for the elderly on Saturday.

In recent years Mrs Waldridge was presented with a plaque and flowers in recognition of being the oldest living survivor of the 1953 floods.

The grandmother-of-ten, who was a widow for more than 20 years, retained a wonderful recall of events from more than 60 years ago and enjoyed an occasional tot of sherry.

Her grand-daughter Carol Jones said: “It was sudden. She was as fit as a fiddle, except for ulcers on her legs - she had never had an operation, been ill or taken more than an aspirin in her life.

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“She had got up and dressed but then feel asleep before she could have her cup of tea.

“She was born in Felixstowe and never lived away from Felixstowe, she absolutely loved it here.

“We are very proud of her - I have a shop in Felixstowe and I have made a memorial in the window with her pictures and flowers.

“She always bought us back to Felixstowe, we always came back for nan and I will always remember her cooking and cakes.”

Mrs Jones added: “We think she may have been the oldest person in Suffolk, but we could not find out for sure because of data protection.

“We have asked around and have not found anyone older.”

Tracey Crockford, deputy manager of the Bellstone care home, said the sprightly pensioner was already missed.

She said: “She did very well, she loved her cups of tea and if it didn't have enough sugar and a teaspoon by the side of the cup you were in trouble!”

On her 103rd birthday Mrs Waldridge told the Evening Star: “I just keep on living and enjoy a tot of sherry on special occasions although I am not a boozer!”

Her funeral will be held on July 22 at 11am at the West Chapel at Ipswich Crematorium.

HELEN Waldridge was born in 1902, two months before the coronation of Edward VII, in a cottage in Walton Avenue, Felixstowe.

Now the site of offices and haulage yards on the edge of the town's port, she had happy memories of playing in the fields near her childhood home and travelling in a horse and cart.

She married her husband, John, at St John's Church in Felixstowe in 1921 after they met in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, when she was a nursemaid and he was a merchant seaman.

The couple had four daughters - Olive, Joyce, Gwen and Jackie.

Sadly Joyce died at the age of 82 and Gwen at 76 in the three years preceding Mrs Waldridge's death on Saturday.

The family lived in Levington Road for more than 30 years and Mrs Waldridge recalled hiding one of her daughters in a cupboard under the stairs when war planes flew overhead.

The family also survived the 1953 floods which claimed more than 2,000 lives in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Following a second flood in the 1970s they moved to higher ground in Elizabeth Way.

Mr Waldridge died in 1988 at the age of 92 but his widow continued living in her own home until she was 102 when she had a fall and moved into the Bellstone care home.

She continued to enjoy life and had visits from her daughters, 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great great grandchild, Savannah, aged 11.

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