St Albans woman celebrates her 109th birthday

Lily Winter on her 107th

Lily Winter on her 107th - Credit: Archant

In 1908 Einstein released his quantum theory of light, Henry Ford sold the first famous Model-T car, the first Scouting for Boys instruction handbook was published, and a meteor crash in Siberia created such an explosion that people in London saw the light.

It is also the year that St Albans woman Lily Mary Winter was born – she is now the 25th oldest person in Britain at 109-years-young and celebrations for her birthday took place on Monday (March 6).

She has lived through both World Wars and 21 Prime Ministers, toured countries all over Europe, and loved to take photos of wild flowers.

To her the secret to longevity is to laugh at everything, and eat and drink little.

Although Lily never learnt to drive or had children, she has a large family with two sisters, a twin brother, six nieces and nephews, 15 great nieces and nephews and 15 great-great nieces and nephews.

Part of her life was spent living in Marshals Drive in St Albans and another part in Switzerland at finishing school.

As a nanny she was known as Aunty Betty, and looked after the grandchildren of the owner of St Albans Lyndale School, which closed in the early 1990s. One of them was Mike Hodge, president of the Old Albanian Club and prolific fundraiser in the area.

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Mike, who doesn’t remember her care as he was only two-years-old, said her age is “extraordinary” and she is a “delightful lady”.

He joked: “It must prove we weren’t any trouble to her when we were little.”

Aunty Betty used to take them around Verulamium Lake or Clarence Park to feed the ducks and eat sandwiches.

Lily is still mobile and independent, despite falling over and breaking her leg in 2012 – defying expectations she would not completely recover.

She lived in a maisonette without a lift until she was 103, and afterwards moved into Springview Care Home in Enfield, where she lives now.

Her brother, Howard, was a one-time Saracens Rugby Club captain, one of her sisters, Phyllis, was a Royal Academy of Arts painter, and another sister was a member of the Land Army.

A nephew, Paul Brewster, said: “She’s a lovely person, who lives a good life and she’s never harmed a fly in her life – she’s that kind of character.”

The oldest person in the country is currently an 112-year-old who lives in Rotherham.