Ipswich: Vilma celebrates turning 107-years-old today

SURROUNDED by her family and full of smiles – that’s how Vilma Harding spent her special day.

She has seen the world change a lot since her birth on September 17, 1905 – having survived two world wars and seen endless improvements in technology during her time.

But today, the 107-year-old is celebrating reaching a milestone age with fellow residents at her care home in Crabbe Street.

Yesterday, to mark the special occasion, Mrs Harding’s loved ones had a birthday lunch at Belstead House, in Sprites Lane.

It was a double celebration as the family marked five generations being together with Vilma, her son Graham, granddaughter Jane Clifford, great-granddaughter Claire Godfrey and seven-week-old great-great-granddaughter Isla Godfrey.

Mrs Harding’s eldest great-great-granddaughter Hannah Meekings, ten, was also there to join in the fun.

She spent most of her life in the Southend and Benfleet area of Essex, but moved to Suffolk after Graham – who is also known as John – moved to the town.

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Graham, 84, a father-of-five who attended the event with his wife Mary, said: “She is doing very, very well.

“It’s nice to get the family together for her, and there are others around the world who couldn’t be here – in New Zealand, Australia and America.

“She moved to the town after I did. She was getting older and I was worrying about her more. I built a granny flat for her but she was adamant that she wasn’t going to live in it because she wanted to keep some independence.

“She lived in sheltered housing at Walsingham Court for a while before going to Crabbe Street.

“She’s seen 100 and I’m sure there will be plenty more.”

Pam Purnell, home manager, said: “She is just a joy to look after and she is amazing for her age.

“She is a very special lady and everyone here loves her.

“She moved here in 2009 so we all know her well. She never complains even though it is hard sometimes.

“She is the oldest resident we have ever had – we have had 100-year-olds before but never someone of 107.”

In July this year Ipswich resident Doris Punchard reached the age of 108 – making her one of the oldest in the county.