103-year-old St Albans resident is still partying

PUBLISHED: 11:55 18 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:55 18 March 2015

B L-R Carer William Macdonald, administrator Tracy Hewitt, carer Jarmila Bartalska, activities coordinator Sophie Munro, team leader Alex Frame 
F L-R Assistant manager Yasir Jahangeer, Gwen Smallwood 103

B L-R Carer William Macdonald, administrator Tracy Hewitt, carer Jarmila Bartalska, activities coordinator Sophie Munro, team leader Alex Frame F L-R Assistant manager Yasir Jahangeer, Gwen Smallwood 103

Archant

Centenarian-plus Gwendoline Smallwood, who moved to St Albans to be closer to her immediate family, has celebrated her 103rd birthday at the care home in which she now lives.

She was joined by friends and family at the celebration held at Clare Lodge in Battlefield Road.

Gwendoline was born in Hampstead, North London, in 1912 but moved to Scotland with her family while her father was serving in the Royal Flying Corps.

The family returned to Hampstead at the end of the war where she completed her education and then worked in London until she married Benjamin Smallwood in 1940.

Home life was disrupted at the outbreak of World War Two when her husband was sent to India. She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, famous for its female pilots, especially famous flyer Amy Johnson, who ferried planes around the UK.

When the war ended, Gwendoline and Benjamin lived in West London where their only son John was born in 1948. They subsequently moved to Muswell Hill before settling to Goring in West Sussex where she continued living after her husband died.

She made annual visits to Brazil where her son and two granddaughters Karen and Sophie lived before finally moving to St Albans last year to be closer to Karen and her great grandaughter Bella Sophia who were living in the city by then.

Karen described her grandmother as “very independent” and said she had lived on her own until she was 102 before making the decision to move into a home.

Her 103rd birthday was marked by a party at Clare Lodge and a cake.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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