Talented May turns 104 with her wit still intact

May Edney celebrated her birthday at Southlands Nursing Home with her nearest and dearest
May Edney celebrated her birthday at Southlands Nursing Home with her nearest and dearest

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She might have just turned 104, but woman-of-many-talents May Edney doesn’t feel it, and she certainly doesn’t act it.

Age is just a number for the straight-talking artist, who recently celebrated her birthday at her home in Havant, with residents and family members.

May’s daughter Elizabeth, 72, says: ‘Mum is an inspiration because she’s always been keen on education and the arts.

‘She’s very creative and can do lots of different things like sew, knit and paint.

‘She made her own clothes, many items without patterns, and rode a motorbike until she was 86.’

May Corner was born in Kent in 1912 and had two sisters. Her father died in the First World War leaving behind the three girls and a wife, and so May became one of ‘the four Corners’.

The centenarian, who moved to Hayling Island as a teenager, says: ‘I come from Gillingham, an area with chalk hills and a lovely river you could swim in!’

May met and fell in love with a young Edgar Ralph Edney – known as Ralph – and married him at St Peter’s Church, Northney, in 1940. The couple had two children, Elizabeth, 72, and Philip, 70. Ralph died in 1965.

May, who is also an animal lover, worked on a farm as a Land Army girl and in 1943 was invited up to Buckingham Palace to meet the late Queen Mother.

Elizabeth adds: ‘Mum can play the violin and the piano, and got first prize in the Hayling Carnival many years ago.

‘She did costumes for school plays, loved her gardens and is very interested in theatre and literature.

‘Most of the things she can do she taught herself to do.’

Up until the age of 101 May had never had a serious operation. Son Philip says she also didn’t take any medication: ‘When May was old enough to go the village hall where they had meetings for older people, they were all talking about their medication, and they said to mum “what colour pills do you take?” And she said, “none”.’

May has been at the home she’s in for three years, and activities co-ordinator Tina Davies says she is a pleasure to be around: ‘We share memories in an activity called Memory Lane and the stories May comes out with are phenomenal.

‘It makes you appreciate that someone can live this long and still have their own mind, May needs help but is still very much her own person.

‘She loves having her hair done and putting her beads on and she makes people laugh all the time with her wit.

‘She also reads through The News and tells everyone what’s been happening.’

When asked why she thinks she’s lived to the age of 104, May says: ‘Living on a farm and doing exercise and getting fresh air has no doubt kept me in good health.

‘I’ve had a good, happy life and I forget about being 104 – that’s the best thing to do!’