Portsmouth centenarian 'gobsmacked' by surprise '25th' birthday party on leap year

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A very special surprise party has been held for a 100-year-old born on a leap year, as she celebrates her ‘25th birthday.’

Doris Cleife, who was born on February 29 1920, was ‘gobsmacked’ to find more than 30 residents from her assisted living apartment block had thrown a surprise birthday party for her today.

Brought to tears by the gesture, she said: ‘I am gobsmacked.

‘I really am surprised and grateful.

Doris Cleife celebrating with all her friends at Brunel Court.

Picture: Habibur RahmanDoris Cleife celebrating with all her friends at Brunel Court.

Picture: Habibur Rahman
Doris Cleife celebrating with all her friends at Brunel Court. Picture: Habibur Rahman | JPIMedia

‘I would like to say thank you to everybody for coming.

‘I didn’t know I was so popular.’

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And it was the first time the centenarian has had a surprise party thrown in her honour.

She said: ‘I’ve waited 100 years for a surprise party – and it’s been worth the wait.’

Doris Cleife celebrating her birthday.

Picture: Habibur RahmanDoris Cleife celebrating her birthday.

Picture: Habibur Rahman
Doris Cleife celebrating her birthday. Picture: Habibur Rahman | JPIMedia

The great-great grandmother was accompanied by her grandson David Bowen, who said the surprise was ‘a bit of a gamble.’

He said: ‘She only gets a birthday-do every four years, so we had to make it a big event out of it.

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‘But it’s a bit of a gamble giving a big surprise to a 99 year old.’

Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor David Fuller presented the birthday girl with a selection of biscuits and chocolates.

Doris Cleife with her grandson, David Bowen, is surprised to see her all her friends waiting for her in the lounge of Brunel Court.

Picture: Habibur RahmanDoris Cleife with her grandson, David Bowen, is surprised to see her all her friends waiting for her in the lounge of Brunel Court.

Picture: Habibur Rahman
Doris Cleife with her grandson, David Bowen, is surprised to see her all her friends waiting for her in the lounge of Brunel Court. Picture: Habibur Rahman | JPIMedia
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Doris moved into a flat in Brunel Court, Nutfield Place, on December 23 – and sees her living less than a mile from Fratton Road, the site of her childhood home.

Having bought a large sponge cake and balloons wishing Doris a happy 25th birthday, Katrina Morgan, housing manager at the assisted living accommodation, said keeping the party secret had been ‘hard work.’

She said: ‘The last two weeks have been a lot of work.

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‘It’s lovely to see Doris see her 100th birthday – no one else here is 100.

‘With it being a leap year, it’s extra special.’

Doris, who worked as an electrician in a de Havilland airplane factory in Portsmouth during the Second World War, will celebrate her birthday with her two grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren tomorrow.

She said: ‘They say the good die young – so I don’t know what that means.

‘You have to keep your sense of humour.’

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