Video/Gallery: Suffolk’s oldest resident Doris Punchard celebrates 111th birthday

Doris Punchard celebrates her 111th birthday party in Ipswich.

Doris Punchard celebrates her 111th birthday party in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Still smiling and with a twinkle in her eye, she taps away on her hymm book.

Doris Punchard, Suffolk’s oldest resident and the sixth oldest person in Britain, is surrounded by her adoring and caring friends as she celebrates her 111th birthday.

The Christian hymm ‘Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven’ fills the airy conservatory at the party held by her loyal friend Freda Smith in The Avenue, Ipswich.

“She is a beautiful person inside and out”, says Jackie Pickering, a church elder at St Matthew’s Church, Punch’s local church where she is a respectively regarded as a competitive opponent in bingo and beetle.

“She is just absolutely lovely.”

At the start of the afternoon celebration on Saturday, Punch, as she is affectionately known, beamed with glee as a queue of well-wishers formed in front of her.

A musical production of ‘Happy Birthday’ involving an impressive display of bell ringing then took place, before Punch was presented with her three-layered cake and honoured by VIP Glen Chisholm, the Ipswich Mayor in full uniform.

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“She obviously means a lot to a lot of people,” reflected Mr Chisholm, after taking to the floor to pay tribute to Punch.

“It is an honour to be here. She has seen so many changes to the world and it is great that she has reached this milestone.”

Punch was born in Springfield Lane, Ipswich, on July 19, 1904, and was just 10 at the outbreak of the First World War.

She has previously recalled the time she anxiously waited for news of her aunt, Salvation Army captain Selena Cook, who was onboard the Titanic on its fateful voyage to New York on April 10, 1912. Mrs Cook was the oldest to be saved.

Punch went on to work for the National Deposit Friendly Scheme for 42 years and retired at the age of 64.

Up until 2013, she lived alone, but now lives in Beach Lawn care home in Hadleigh Road, Ipswich.

Friend Wendy Seymour said: “She always asks how you are first. She is still so with it and is always so pleased to see you.”

Another church friend Joy Woodall said: “She never complains about anything. She is a wonderful lady and it was great to see her.”