‘An ordinary life’: Alice celebrates 102nd birthday in Hailsham

102-year-old Alice celebrates her birthday in style
102-year-old Alice celebrates her birthday in style

For 60 years Alice Shill dedicated her life to making flags. But on Monday (January 20) she saw the bunting put up in her own honour to celebrate her 102nd birthday.

Since the age of 14 Alice made flags for national ceremonial events and worked for Arthur Smart and Sons in London, a company which produced silk flags for the Royal Family and other countries.

At her birthday party, balloons brandishing her name were hung around Bowes House Care Home in Hailsham where she lives, and she was surrounded by flags and bouquets as she blew out the candles on her cake.

Alice’s niece Daphne Grime joined in the celebrations on the day and said she thought the key to Alice reaching the milestone was her stubborness. She also said in all of the time she had known Alice she had never grumbled.

But modest Alice said she did not think there were any tips to living a long life.

She said: “I have just lived an ordinary life.”

Originally from London, Alice and her husband Geoffrey, an office clerk, retired to Willingdon where they lived until his death ten years ago. Alice moved into the Bowes House care home in November last year.

Alice was a child during the First World War and says she cannot remember it but she does remember life being hard during the Second World War.

One of her strongest memories is the time she was blown from one side of the room she was working in to the other when a bomb dropped.

Alice was one of seven children and said she did not have children of her own but she enjoyed watching her nieces and nephews growing up.

Her father was a printer of newspapers and books and her mother looked after the family home and children. Her youngest sister, ten years her junior and her only surviving sibling, lives in Southend.

Hailsham Mayor Cllr Jo Bentley also called in at the Bowes House care home, with her own flowers and chatted with the centenarian.

She said: “It’s wonderful to hear of someone remaining so active at such an age and it’s an honour to celebrate with Alice and other guests on her 102nd birthday.

“She is a wonderful lady and a pleasure to be around. Alice certainly does not look her age and I hope she enjoys many more birthday parties to come.”