Family gather to surprise great-great grandmother for 100th birthday

Elizabeth Smith knew turning 100 would be special, but she didn't expect a birthday-related cup of tea to turn into a surprise party filled with all of her family members, friends and neighbours.

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 10:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 11:21 am
Elizabeth Smith celebrated her 100th birthday at the Alexandra Bowls Club. Here she is with her great-great grandson Albert Perkins, 15 months. Picture: Keith Woodland.

The much-loved centenarian was recently greeted by her loved ones at Portsmouth’s Alexandra Bowls Club for an event that will be remembered by all.

Elizabeth, from Portsmouth, says: ‘There were about 50 people at the party, we all had such a lovely time.

‘I didn’t expect it at all, I thought I was going for a cup of tea and then I saw everyone standing there, I couldn’t believe it.’

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Elizabeth was born one of 14 siblings in 1916. She met her first husband and the father of her children, Basil Scutt, when she was a young girl.

The couple lived in the same area and grew up together, eventually marrying in 1936.

Elizabeth adds: ‘We did a lot of courting. We especially liked to go dancing.’

Elizabeth worked as a maid when she left school. She would help her mother out in the evenings and then went on to work in a factory, then in a shop. In her later years she also worked as a barmaid at a Southsea pub, The Wheelbarrow, where popular singer David Whitfield used to perform.

Basil and Elizabeth had two children – Peter 77, and Joan, 75. Sadly, Basil, who was a chef in the Royal Air Force, died during the Second World War.

Elizabeth now has six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.

Some time after Basil died, Elizabeth met her second husband, Robert Smith, at The Portland.

‘We liked each other straight away,’ adds Elizabeth.

‘He said to my friend about me “I’m going to marry that girl”.’

And he did, at St Mark’s Church in 1948.

Daughter Joan says: ‘Mum looked after us with little help when dad died. She’s always been very family-orientated.

‘Every year we used to go to Lyons Corner House in London as a family.

‘We’d have huge knickerbocker glories, that was our big treat.

‘The party was lovely, it went so well. We had old wartime music playing and a nice buffet, and a cake.

‘We all think a lot of mum, she’s an inspiration.’

Although Elizabeth was the youngest out of her siblings, she has lived to the oldest age out of the 14 of them. Now she has nephews in their 70s and 80s who still make time to see her.

Speaking of her longevity, Elizabeth says: ‘I never thought I’d live this long, but I’ve looked after myself and had good food.

‘I also love my big family. When I look back, that’s something that’s kept me going as well, because I look forward to seeing them.

‘I was very happy about getting my card from the Queen, I waited patiently for that.

‘I got 32 other birthday cards as well.’

The love Elizabeth has towards her family is mutual, according to her daughter-in-law Shirley.

She says: ‘All the kids love nanny Smith, they just can’t believe she’s still here.

‘We did a lot of whispering before the party because it was a surprise.

‘When she was brought to the venue everyone was already there and we all gave her a clap.

‘Her face was a picture. All of the people that should’ve been there were.

‘It was a brilliant day.’