Ipswich: Doris still packs a punch... at 108!

SHE’S older than the Panama Canal and has been retired for longer than she worked.

Inspirational Doris Punchard today celebrates her 108th birthday – and admits she has seen a world of change in her long, long lifetime.

Miss Punchard – known to her legion of pals as Punch – was born in Springfield Lane, Ipswich on July 19, 1904.

She worked for the National Deposit Friendly Society for 42 years, retiring at 64 – meaning she has been a pensioner for two years longer than she was employed.

Punch is just two years away from becoming a super-centenarian – but she is modest about her incredible achievement.

Still a regular churchgoer, she has been attending at St Matthew’s Church since 1952 and is the treasurer for the senior’s group.

Fellow parishioner Freda Smith takes Doris to church every Sunday.

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She said: “Every Sunday morning at 9.30am, she’s waiting at the door, rain or shine.”

Punch said: “They’re a wonderful loving lot at St Matthew’s and they’re all so helpful under the direction of our rector (Nick Atkins) who’s a wonderful man.”

Punch has called the town her home all her life and can still recall the many independent shops that used to fill the town – from greengrocers to butchers and milliners.

As well as an astounding memory, Doris also has a fantastic head for figures.

Senior church member Joy Woodall said: “When we’re playing bingo, she adds up quicker than anybody else.

“I think the amazing thing about Punch is she never focuses on her own problems, she’s always interested in other people and how they are.

“She’s an amazing, inspirational lady.”

Punch is fiercely independent but always grateful for all the help and support she gets from those around her.

And she is a keen traveller, visiting dozens of destinations around the world.

She said: “I’ve always had holidays in mountainous places, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

“The things you find growing on the mountains are wonderful.”

Punch has received scores of cards and birthday wishes from friends – including some she used to work with – and is expecting a card from the Queen today.

Last month, she celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with friends from church – and recalled an incredible moment from the royal family’s history which took place in Ipswich.

“There was something going on in County Hall and our office was opposite County Hall,” she said.

“We said ‘whatever’s going on?’ But then we realised it was Mrs (Wallis) Simpson’s divorce hearing.”

Doris is today celebrating her big day with a party of friends at Freda’s house.