May Edney and Gladys Winkworth celebrated their milestone birthdays side-by-side, each with their own story to tell.
May Edney has never been afraid of hard work. If there was a job that needed doing, she would roll up her sleeves and set to it.
And it’s the great outdoors and fresh air that May credits for her longevity, having incredibly just celebrated her 106th birthday.
The former Land Army girl was thrown a joint party with her friend Gladys Winkworth, who turned 101 on the same day, at Southlands Care Home in Havant, where they live.
May, nee Corner, may be advanced in years and a bit hard of hearing but her memory is sharp as ever as she recalls happy memories of her childhood years in Kent.
‘I was one of three sisters who, along with my mother, were known as the Four Corners.
‘My father died when I was young, he was a chief engineer and was killed on the destroyer HMS Gurkha in 1917. I have very fond memories of him. We had lots of picnics on the Darland Estate and we’d walk on the chalky hills of the Downs. But my mother made a really good job of bringing up three little girls on her own.’
May joined the Land Army during the war and moved to a farm on Hayling Island. She says: ‘I was a land girl for many years – I picked a lot of Brussels sprouts! I worked outside in all weathers .’
Shortly after arriving in Northney she married farmhand Ralph. According to daughter Elizabeth Heath, Ralph managed to steal a kiss from May in what is now the popular Northney Tea Rooms. The couple were together until Ralph’s death in 1964.
Mrs Edney, who also has a son Phillip, was surrounded by family and friends for the bash.
She says: ‘I’m very flattered to think all these people came out for my birthday party.’
With a broad smile across her face, Gladys Winkworth takes in the packed room, delighted that so many people are there to celebrate her birthday.
‘It’s all such a surprise’, exclaims Gladys. ‘I can’t believe how many people are here to celebrate’.
But this is no ordinary birthday, for Gladys has reached the grand age of 101. She had a telegram from the Queen last year and this year the Mayor of Havant, Councillor Peter Wade, baked her and May a delicious birthday cake each.
May says: ‘I never thought I would make it to this age. It’s really not something you think will happen. I’ve always been very healthy and never drunk or smoked.
‘Working has kept me healthy, I never stopped really because I spent many years looking after my girls and my husband.’
Gladys was born in Mile End Road, in Portsmouth, one of six children. She went into domestic service aged just 14. At 18 she met and married Gordon and they went on to have two daughters.
The couple had a long and happy marriage. Sadly Gordon died in 1996.
Daughter Brenda Munday, now 79, says: ‘She has always been a lovely mum to us. ‘Yes’, agrees daughter Thelma Clay, 76. ‘She is such a caring mother’.
Gladys has three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
And she is well-known in her family for her artistic streak. She is a talented craftswoman and has made dozens of beautiful eggs, reminiscent on the great Fabergé.
They adorn the shelves of her room at Southlands.
Brenda adds: ‘Mum is still very switched on and very artistically talented. She has been all her life.
‘She hasn’t lost her sense of humour. We’re delighted that we could be here with her on this special occasion.’
Cllr Wade adds: ‘It is indeed a special day here at Southlands.’