Doris Smith’s generous and hospitable spirit – as well as a flair for making some snazzy outfits – has served her well throughout her 107 years.
Doris, who celebrated her birthday with friends and family on January 19, is believed to be one of the oldest people in Portsmouth.
‘She must have an extremely strong heart, because she always bounces back!’ laughs her son, Keith Smith.
Born in Kingston Road, Portsmouth on January 19, 1910, Doris Wilson was the youngest of six children – with two sisters and three brothers.
She picked up her trade as a tailoress as a teenager, and put her talents to good use for her family, particularly her two sons, Keith and Ron – the latter of whom died in 2000, aged 58.
‘She made all of our clothes, and she was brillant at it,’ says Keith.
‘I don’t think I ever saw her buy anything in a shop ever!’
When she was in her mid-20s, Doris met Peter Smith at a ballroom dance on Clarence Pier. They married on September 15, 1939, and were together until Peter died in 1998, aged 83.
‘We had lots of camping holidays to places like Devon and Cornwall as a family,’ Keith fondly remembers.
‘Dad would always drive though – you would hold your breath if mum drove!’
As their friends from over the years recall, Doris and Peter had a willingness to offer hospitality to anyone.
‘They always liked company,’ says John Newnham, who was mechanic Peter’s apprentice from the age of 18 and for many years after.
He adds: ‘In fact, there was nothing they liked more than for someone to break down outside their house!’
Doris’ daughter-in-law, Hazel Smith, adds: ‘I will always remember when a homeless man knocked on her door at Christmas, and she made him some soup!’
Even at 107, Doris still appears as strong-willed as she was 70 years ago.
‘She was always very strong but fair.
‘She would always say her point, and she would always know what she wanted,’ says Keith.
‘She’s always very happy, and has a great sense of humour, and she would always do anything for you.’