Tributes have been paid to devoted family woman and avid gardener Irene Field - the oldest person in St Albans - who has died aged 108.

Irene lived through two pandemics, two World Wars, five monarchs and huge technological and social change.

She was born during the First World War on March 7, 1916, to Bertha and George Blundell, landlord and lady of The Garibaldi in Albert Street - a pub which survives to this day.

The eldest of six children, Rene (as she was known to friends and family) attended the former Abbey National School on Spicer Street. Her children and grandchildren would go on to attend the same school.

While working as a waitress in a café in George Street in the 1930s, she met her future husband John, who worked at a nearby shop.

Irene married husband John in 1937.Irene married husband John in 1937. (Image: Peter Field)

Her son Peter recalls his father telling him that he "took every opportunity I could to sneak over the road for a cup of tea and cake, just to see Rene."

They married in the Abbey Cathedral on December 27, 1937, and moved in together in Mount Pleasant.

The couple had two sons, Peter and elder son Don - named after Rene's six-year-old brother, who died of diphtheria.

Paying tribute to his late mother, Peter said: "She lived for her family, doting on her grandchildren and taking great pleasure in seeing them grow.

"She lived a very simple but happy life and ironically for someone who lived to 108, she was always worrying about something!"

He describes his favourite memory of her as "her absolute love of the garden".

Irene was a keen gardener, and at her funeral the family laid a wreath of her favourite flowers, carnations, on her coffin.

Irene and John enjoyed a "simple life", with family always being of great importance. They were not travellers, instead preferring picnics and gardening.

She would often spend time with her siblings and 15 nieces and nephews, all of them living in St Albans.

Family was always important to IreneFamily was always important to Irene (Image: Peter Field)

She worked in a variety of shops on George Street throughout the years, including a sweetshop in Holywell Hill.

Rene and John inherited her grandparents' bungalow in Watford Road and the couple lived at the property for the rest of their lives.

In retirement, she involved herself with children's charity 'When You Wish Upon A Star', as well as visiting garden centres.

John died in 2010, aged 95. The pair were married for 72  years.

Irene lived independently until a fall on her 96th birthday, which saw her move into Verulam House.

Twice weekly she would go for lunch with Peter and celebrated her 100th birthday with three generations of her family present.

Irene and John celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary in 1997Irene and John celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary in 1997 (Image: Peter Field)

Shortly afterwards, she was diagnosed with dementia and Peter describes the final few years of her life as "challenging", but says it does not diminish the "many fond memories of her life".

Resilient until the end, she even survived a battle with COVID-19 at the age of 106.

The family have thanked the staff at Verulam House for the 12 years they spent caring for her.

Irene died on May 21, and her funeral was held at the end of June. At the time of her death she was believed to be the 63rd oldest person in Britain.