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Our ‘real diamond’ resident, Eileen, celebrates her 100th birthday

Eileen Webster

When Eileen Webster turned 100 on Friday 9th October, celebrations were very different from what her family had planned. Eileen’s seven children had intended to gather family and friends for a big party at the retirement development where Eileen lives, Anglia Court in Dagenham, which is managed by FirstPort.

Sadly, plans had to be put on hold due to Coronavirus, but that didn’t stop Eileen getting her glad rags on and her hair done, as she does every week, to see her family on a rota throughout her big day at a distance, either in the garden or through a window.

FirstPort’s Development Manager, Lydia, was on hand to help with the mission of arranging for her seven children, 10 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and even a great, great-grandchild, to be able to see her safely on her special day.

Whilst this birthday was somewhat low-key, Eileen’s previous birthday celebrations have not been for the faint-hearted. For her 80th birthday, she took a Concorde flight, and for her 90th she had a helicopter ride over London. Her family joke that there’s still time to get her wing-walking in her 100th year, something she is keen to try.

100 years of Eileen

Eileen was born on 9th October 1920 and grew up in Forest Gate. She married James in 1938 and they went on to have seven children. Her eldest child, Joan, 82, was born just before her 18th birthday and she spent a happy time bringing up her four girls and three boys. Her claim to fame is that Dame Vera Lynn is a family friend, having grown up in the same part of London, with Dame Vera even attending her children’s christenings.

Eileen has always had a caring nature, and she decided to pursue a career in nursing, doing night shifts alongside bringing up her children. She worked at Langthorne Hospital treating patients with mental health issues. Today she carries on her caring pursuits by knitting toys for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

When James sadly passed away in 1991, Eileen and her children decided it was time to sell the family home and for her to move somewhere smaller and more manageable.

Anglia House has been her home for over 30 years and she is very happy with the safety and security it provides. She is a very much part of the community, and fellow residents were keen to make her 100th birthday special by raising enough money through a collection to buy Eileen a hand-made celebratory cushion and other gifts.

The Secret to 100 years

Eileen’s secret to living to the grand age of 100 is keeping fit and active. She has a good diet, enjoying a roast and all the trimmings regularly. Alongside her daily walks, she still does bicycle leg exercises from her bed every morning, as well as doing all her own household chores.

Summing up, Eileen’s daughter, Joan, said: “As us old cockneys say, she’s a real diamond”.

Samantha Gibson, Director of FirstPort’s Retirement Division added: “We would like to wish Eileen a wonderful 100th birthday. Eileen is a true inspiration to us all and we are very proud to have her as part of our Anglia Court community.”